According to statistics released by Naamsa on Tuesday, new car sales in October were 2,9 per cent lower than in September, but 16,9 per cent higher than in the corresponding period last year.
According to statistics released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) on Tuesday, new car sales in October were 2,9 per cent lower than in September, but 16,9 per cent higher than in the corresponding period last year.
On aggregate, new vehicle sales (42 660) were 7 957 units (22,9 per cent) higher compared with the number sold during the corresponding month last year. In addition, year-to-date aggregate new vehicle sales were 19,7 per cent ahead of the overall sales levels for the same period last year.
Although the growth momentum in new car sales slowed modestly last month (841 vehicles fewer than in September), the 28 268 units sold in October were still 4 096 more than the figure recorded in October 2003. The latest sales figures represent the best ever October new cars sales month on record.
“The successful Auto Africa Expo 2004 had been used as a platform by manufacturers and importers to launch many attractive new models and this should lend further support to the new car market over the medium term,” a Naamsa spokesman said.
By contrast, sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses boomed in October. The 12 255 units sold in the period were an improvement of 3 417 vehicles (38,6 per cent) compared with the 8 838 units sold during the corresponding month last year. Moreover, the latest figures also represented an increase of 164 units (1,3 per cent) over September’s total in this sector.
Naamsa commented that Tata light commercial vehicles were included, for the first time, in October. For the first 10 months of the year, new light commercial vehicles sales were 19,1 per cent ahead of sales recorded during the same period last year.
Meanwhile, sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the industry in October registered impressive gains and at 924 units and 1 213 units, respectively, were an improvement of 243 units (35,7 per cent), in the case of medium commercials, and 203 units (20,1 per cent), in the case of heavy commercial vehicles and buses – compared with the corresponding month last year. On a year-to-date basis, compared with levels recorded during the first 10 months of 2003, sales of medium commercial vehicles were 35,9 per cent, and heavy trucks and buses 20,5 per cent, ahead.
Traditionally, the strength in commercial vehicles sales reflects positive business sentiment and strength in fixed investment in the economy. In the medium term, commercial vehicles sales would continue to be supported by higher infrastructural spending by Government and the strong momentum in the economy, the association predicted.
A positive macro economic environment, strong business and consumer confidence, improved overall affordability as a result of new vehicle prices declining in real terms, and relatively low interest rates would continue to support new vehicle sales during the rest of 2004 and well into 2005, a Naamsa spokesman said.
The 2004 new vehicle market is on track to achieve all time record sales, on an aggregate basis, of about 460 000 units (including the contribution of various importers currently reporting sales in aggregate terms).
Mike Whitfield, Nissan SA sales and marketing director, said: "Micra, Almera and Hardbody have contributed handsomely to our performance, with the venerable 1400 half-ton pickup - which has been on the market for over 30 years - enjoying its best sales month in October for 10 years.
Commenting on Ford Motor Company SA's positive results, Nigel Harris, director of sales and marketing, said: "The continued staunch acceptance of our Ford Bantam half-ton pickup, which came near to exceeding its previous sales record in this segment, is encouraging."
VWSA said its strong performers in the Volkswagen stable were the new Golf, Polo/Polo Classic and Touran models. The recently launched Audi A6 has far outperformed its sales expectations in October.
"The bulk of the growth (in the new car market) is coming from the light and medium segments, followed by entry level vehicles. The luxury car segment remains under pressure. In fact, the luxury car segment has contracted by just over four per cent year to date," said McCarthy Motor Holdings chairman Brand Pretorius.
"The sales increase of 19,7 per cent for the year to date conveys a very positive message about the strength of the South African economy. High levels of both consumer and business confidence are underpinning the market, while enhanced vehicle affordability is also playing a key role in boosting vehicle sales.
"All in all it remains a buyers' market with lots of new models being introduced and many special incentives being offered on slow moving models," he added.