The new vehicle statistics for January showed strong pre-emptive buying by consumers to avoid expected price increases, according to the latest figures from Naamsa. Sales are up 33,1 per cent from December.

To view January's new vehicle sales figures, click here.

The new vehicle statistics for January showed strong pre-emptive buying by consumers to avoid expected price increases, according to the latest figures from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).

Naamsa commented that new vehicle sales had started 2003 on a reasonably positive note with aggregate combined new vehicle sales at 31 832 units registering a decline of 291 vehicles or 0,9 per cent compared with the 32 123 units sold during the corresponding month of last year.

Compared with the 2002 December aggregate sales figures of 23 903, total January sales had risen by 7 929 units or 33,1 per cent.

The association said that from a seasonal perspective, January had become an increasingly strong sales month as buyers sought to benefit from a new-year model registration date and the associated higher resale value of motor vehicles.

New passenger car sales came in at 22 056 units and reflected a decline of 406 units or 1,8 per cent compared with the 22 462 sales recorded during the corresponding month in 2002 which had been a particularly strong month as a result of extensive pre-emptive buying at the time.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 8 890 units during January reflected a modest improvement of 73 units or 0,8 per cent compared with the 8 817 unit sales of the corresponding month last year.

Sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the industry during January reflected a mixed performance. At 369 units and 517 units, for medium and heavy truck segments respectively, there was an improvement of 44 units or 13,5 per cent, in the case of medium commercials, versus a virtually unchanged position in the case of heavy trucks and buses compared with January 2002.

Aggregate industry vehicles exports during 2002 had increased by 17 013 or 15,7 per cent to 125 306 units compared with the 108 293 vehicle exports in 2001. In revenue terms, vehicle exports during 2002 would have exceeded R15 billion.

The total export of cars increased from 97 599 to 113 025 from 2001 to 2002, while light commercials went up from 10 229 to 11 699 units. Medium commercials increased from 465 to 582. A total figure of 147 600 units is projected for 2003.

Naamsa said that the current strength of the rand, prospects of lower inflation and an easing in interest rates, expectations of further tax relief in the forthcoming budget, stable and sound microeconomic policies and the general resilience of the domestic economy were expected to support improved demand for new vehicles, particularly during the second half of 2003.

To view January's new vehicle sales figures, click here.