Last year’s impressive new vehicle sales activity shows little sign of slowing down, as increased sales were recorded again in January.

:: Click here for complete new vehicle sales figures in South Africa during January ::

Last year’s impressive new vehicle sales activity shows little sign of slowing down, as increased sales were recorded again in January.

The new vehicle sales figures released by NAAMSA on Wednesday indicated that 2005 had started off on a strong note, with 40 627 units showing a 20,9 per cent improvement compared with the 33 601 units sold in January 2004. Sales in all segments had registered gains compared with those in December’s total figure of 35 962, to show an increase of 4 665 units, or 13 per cent, in January 2005.

Traditionally, January represents a strong sales month as new car purchasers hope to benefit from the new year registration date, and the associated higher resale value of their vehicles.

Last month’s new car sales of 28 910 units – the highest January monthly total on record - reflected a gain of 5 259 units, or 22,2 per cent, compared with the 23 651 new cars sold during January 2004.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 10 216 units reflected an increase of 1 373 units, or 15,5 per cent, compared with the 8 843 units sales of the corresponding month last year.

The medium commercial and heavy truck segments also started off the year well by recording 736 and 765 units, respectively. This is an improvement of 314 units (74,4 per cent) in medium commercial, and 80 units (11,6 per cent) in the heavy truck and bus segment, compared with last year.

However, with the rand’s recent strength, vehicle exports have been compromised as units shipped declined by 15 402 units, or 12,2 per cent, to 111 253. This compares with the 126 661 vehicles exported in 2003. However, current projections for 2005, taking into account various new light commercial/multi-purpose vehicle export programmes, indicate a 15 per cent increase in export figures.

:: Click here for complete new vehicle sales figures in South Africa during January ::

“Nissan’s January results were on target and encouraging. With the introduction of new products in 2005, we are confident we will achieve our overall objectives and increase our market share this year,” said Roel de Vries, Nissan’s head of sales and marketing.

Nigel Harris, director of sales and marketing for Ford Motor Company of SA said, "We are particularly delighted with the performance of some of our models such as the Ford Bantam, which continues to be the top seller in the half-ton pick-up segment. Also, the Ford Fiesta continues to grow its sales rate beyond that achieved by the previous generation."

Sales and marketing director for VWSA Jolyon Nash said: "Strong demand for the recently introduced new Golf continued into the New Year with sales of 629 units."

"Vehicle sales in January provided an excellent start to the new year," said Brand Pretorius, chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings. "January's performance is a continuation of the positive trend experienced in 2004 and augers well for the remainder of the year.

"Although January had a slow start, sales fortunately accelerated during the last ten days of the month to produce a very positive result," said Pretorius.

"The strong upsurge in fleet buying experienced during this period, provides a clear indication of the high level of business confidence and economic activity currently prevailing in the country," Pretorius said about the strong sales figures for light, heavy and particularly medium commercial vehicles.

"We are bullish about the sales prospects in 2005 and believe that the market will show growth of approximately 11% for the full year," Pretorius concluded.

GMSA director of sales and marketing Malcolm Gauld said that based on a month-on-month comparison, the company's overall market share had increased from 9,6 per cent in January 2004 to 12,1 per cent recorded in January 2005.