In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of August, 2014 – released for public consumption via the website of the Department of Trade & industry – the Association commented that, as anticipated, new vehicle sales had shown a marginal decline year on year, whilst export sales had staged a strong recovery. In the event, domestic new vehicle sales had continued to show resilience, for the third month in a row, despite subdued economic growth and pressure on consumers’ disposable income. August 2014 aggregate new vehicle sales at 55 751 vehicles had registered a modest decline of 738 vehicles or a fall of 1.3% compared to the 56 489 vehicles sold in August last year. The August, 2014 export sales at 25 027 units reflected a substantial improvement of 3 911 vehicles or a gain of 18.5% compared to the 21 116 vehicles exported in August last year.

Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 55 751 vehicles, 79.8% represented dealer sales, 13.1% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.6% to Industry corporate fleets and 3.5% to government.

Assisted by another strong contribution by the car rental industry, the new car market during August, 2014 had performed relatively well and at 37 982 units reflected a decline of 1 018 vehicles or a fall of 2.6% compared to the 39 000 new cars sold in August last year.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 14 942 units during August, 2014 reflected an improvement of 306 units or 2.1% compared to the 14 636 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

Compared to the corresponding month last year, sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry at 1 006 units and 1 821 units, respectively, reflected a mixed picture with medium commercial vehicle sales showing a slight decline of 36 units or 3.5% whilst heavy trucks and buses had registered a marginal improvement of 10 units or 0.1%.

Overall, continued strength in commercial vehicle sales was encouraging and suggested improved investment sentiment.

Industry new vehicle exports during August, 2014 at 25 027 vehicles had registered a substantial improvement of 3 911 units or a gain of 18.5% compared to the 21 116 vehicles exported in August last year.

The outlook for the SA automotive sector for the balance of 2014 would remain challenging. Relatively low economic growth, recent increases in interest rates and above inflation new vehicle price increases – would combine to dampen new vehicle sales momentum. The domestic market was expected to register a decline, in volume terms, of between 4% and 5% compared to 2013.

South Africa requires stronger growth, faster employment creation and a narrowing of the country’s current account and fiscal deficits. An improvement in domestic and foreign investor confidence was imperative in this regard. Steadfast focus on the implementation of the National Development Plan would assist in boosting business sentiment.

Against the background of more normalised industry vehicle production volumes, a further improvement in export numbers was anticipated over the remainder of 2014.