Worrisome trend: Local car sales continue to drop yet we're still exporting thousands of vehicles each month

 <i>Image: Quickpic</i>
<i>Image: Quickpic</i>

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) reports that new vehicle sales continued to decline in July 2019, with lower passenger car sales again been offset by growth in all commercial vehicle segments.

Naamsa confirmed that aggregate domestic sales at 46 077 units reflected a decline of 1779 units or 3.7% from the 47 856 vehicles sold in July last year.

The upward momentum on the export side continued to register substantial growth of 6 216 vehicles, or a gain of 22.1%, compared to the 28 081 vehicles exported in July last year.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 46 077 vehicles, an estimated 36 974 units or 80.2% represented dealer sales, an estimated 14.0% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3.6% to industry corporate fleets, and 2.2% to government.

Sales by category

The July 2019 new passenger car market had registered a decline of 2 617 cars or a fall of 8.2% to 29 477 units compared to the 32 094 new cars sold in July last year. The car rental Industry’s contribution accounted for a substantial 19.7% of new car sales in July 2019.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 13 852 units during July 2019 had recorded an increase of 391 units or a gain of 2.9% from the 13 461 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

car sales

Increase in exports 

The July 2019 export sales number represented a substantial gain with export sales at 34 297 vehicles reflecting an increase of 6 216 vehicles, or 22.1%, compared to the 28 081 vehicles exported in the same month last year. Vehicle exports for the year to date are now 35 738 vehicles or 19.8% higher than the corresponding period last year.

Naamsa says: "The lowering of the interest rate by 25 basis points as well as relief from lower fuel prices during July offered some reprieve for financially strained consumers. The ABSA Purchasing Managers’ Index measured 52.1 index points in July 2019, the first reading above the neutral 50-point mark since December 2018, signalling an expansion in activity. The increase in all commercial vehicle segments therefore bodes well for the remainder of the year.

"However, in a low growth environment other structural reforms that deal with underlying issues in the economy need to complement the lowering in the interest rate for sustained improvement in business and consumer confidence going forward. The turnaround anticipated for the second half of the year has not realised in the new vehicle market yet. The export performance, however, remains strong and industry vehicle production levels would continue to benefit from strong vehicle export sales."

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