The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), commented yesterday that as a result of the three-week strike at the seven major vehicle manufacturing plants during August and September, industry exports experienced a dramatic decline. Fortunately, domestic sales only experienced a minor decline thanks to existing inventory levels.
Despite the gloom, domestic sales continued to reflect modest growth on a year-to-date basis (5,0 per cent over the same months of 2012). The aggregate sales figure of 54 281 vehicles sold locally reflects a decline of 1,5 per cent from the 55 093 units sold during September 2012.
Out of the total reported industry sales of 54 281 vehicles, 42 408 units or 78,1 per cent represented dealer sales, 15,3 per cent represented sales to the rental industry, 3.6 per cent to corporate fleets and 3,0 per cent to government.
The 39 792 cars sold during September showed a marginal improvement of 303 units (0,8 per cent) over the 39 489 new cars sold during September last year. Once again, the rental industry contributed significantly (20,1 per cent) to the sales volume. Sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles increased by 108 and 46 units respectively (13,9 per cent and 3,0 per cent). Light commercial vehicles suffered a 9,6 per cent decline (1 269 units).
As mentioned above, new vehicle exports bore the brunt of the industrial action. With just 6 622 vehicles exported during September, the decline is a massive 20 014 units (75,1 per cent), from the 26 646 vehicles exported during the corresponding month of 2012.
Besides the impact of the strike reflecting in GDP growth figures, third quarter manufacturing output data and long-term manufacturing consequences, the industrial action has also damaged South Africa’s reputation as a reliable supplier of vehicles to export markets.
Even with the forecast for the rest of the year indicating lower economic growth and above-inflation new vehicle prices that would result in a more difficult trading environment, this year could still be the second or third best in terms of overall domestic sales. As for exports, it is expected that local vehicle manufacturers will adopt plans to recover some of the lost production.