SA vehicle sales | NADA warns automotive industry to be 'mindful' after April sales

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2021 Volkswagen Polo Vivo
2021 Volkswagen Polo Vivo

• More than 35 000 new vehicles were sold in South Africa in April 2021.

• Sales were 17% down compared to March 2021.

• South Africa is currently experiencing a shortage of new vehicles.

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New vehicle sales in April were 17.6% down from last month. Still, they showed encouraging signs of market recovery when considering it was an especially short trading month with only 19 selling days. 

Sales results were better than expected, despite April being the shortest trading month bookended with public holidays and long weekends. There was the added complication of staggered school holidays affecting business too.

April sales figures reported by Naamsa showed an aggregate of 35 779 units sold, with 31 482 of these coming from dealers. Last month's sales through dealer retail channels were estimated at 88.0% of total sales, with the rental industry taking 7.5%, 2.4% of sales going to the government, and 2.1% to industry corporate fleets.

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Not comparable

At NADA, we believe that we cannot compare sales with April 2020 as we were in the harshest Level 5 lockdown at this time last year, with only 574 new vehicles being sold that month and only 275 through the dealer network. It's also difficult to track where we are quarter-on-quarter, but with an average of 36 000 units sold over the first four months of 2021, the new car market is in a relatively healthy state.

As an industry, we must be mindful, however, of potential setbacks in the coming months. In contrast to 2020, we have customers, but a shortage of many models due to an increasing number of global logistical challenges impacts the current and future new vehicle stock availability in South Africa. We're experiencing a global scarcity of microchips, as well as steel, resin, and rubber.

READ: SA Vehicle Sales | 600% improvement for April 2021 after 2020 horror show

Unfortunately, South Africa has the added complication of severe lockdowns in India, limiting production. India is a significant source of built-up vehicle imports, particularly in the entry level segment of the market. The large-scale vaccination programme in South Africa cannot start fast enough to bring more normality to the country. Kudos to the government for accelerating the supply of vaccines, with more than 300 000 batches arriving early on Monday (3 May) morning and more expected in the next few weeks.

Mark Dommisse, the Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA)

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