November's new car sales data shows recovery in progress

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2020 Volkswagen Polo Vivo Mswenko (MotorPress)
2020 Volkswagen Polo Vivo Mswenko (MotorPress)

• New car sales data for November show the market has recovered to 70% of pre Covid-19 volumes, says Wesbank. 

• The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said close to 40 000 vehicle sales were recorded last month. 

• Volume growth was marked at 563 units over October's sales. 

South African new vehicle sales recorded their best post-lockdown performance in November, providing positive signs of a slow rehabilitation of the country's motor industry, according to Wesbank.

Amidst an overall market, down 30.6% year-to-date, November's sales performance of 39 315 units shows signs of resurgent consumer demand and relief for motor retailers as volumes continue to increase, data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) showed.

In essence, November sales doubled-up the performance increase over October (down 25.4%) to close 12% down on November last year.

According to sales data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), vehicle sales continued to increase for the fifth consecutive month, although the volume growth was only 563 units. 

"Generally, we have recovered to about 70% of pre COVID-19 volumes," says Lebogang Gaoaketse, Head of Marketing and Communication at WesBank Vehicle and Asset Finance.

"While it would be unrealistic to expect the market to return to 100% in the short to medium-term, the industry has adapted quickly to the new levels of demand to remain sustainable and continue contributing towards economic recovery."
November Infographic
November Infographic

WesBank CEO, Chris de Kock says new blended working arrangements have reduced the demand for consumers to own cars. "For those who do, it is likely that their annual mileage will reduce considerably, increasing the time between replacement cycles. The South African economy will simply not be able to support a market of 500 000 vehicles per year," says De Kock.

Passenger car sales were 18.1% lower than November 2019, recording 25 707 unit sales. This is 5696 units less than November last year and 989 units less than last month, potentially indicating shifts in the market in terms of demand.

Dealers will have been relieved to only see a 5.9% decline in consumer demand in the sector as consumers continue to show renewed appetite for vehicle purchases.

Bigger news was the 5.3% growth in Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) sales to 11 243 units. This is a significant 1590 more units than October and is the first positive growth sales number since lockdown began. Consumer demand at dealer level was slightly softer, but still 2.8% up on November last year.

De Kock says that the shift in market demand is the result of two significant trends, both centred around affordability. "Consumers are clearly seeking to reduce their monthly instalment by buying a more affordable vehicle," says De Kock.

"The evidence of this can be seen in the market growth of the new car segment offering lower priced vehicles where customers seem willing to substitute high profile brands for more practical and affordable options," De Kock concluded. 

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