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The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) said the overall new vehicle market declined further in November 2019.

Domestic sales figures, particularly in commercial vehicle sales, had been “disappointing”. However, passenger cars sales, with strong support provided by the car rental industry, showed a welcome uptick.

Naamsa confirmed aggregate domestic new vehicle sales at 44 738 units reflected a decline of 2 740 units or 5,8 percent from the 47 478 vehicles sold in November 2018. Although monthly export sales had registered a marginal decline during the month, a new annual record had been set with still one month to go until year-end.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 44 738 vehicles, an estimated 35 168 units or 78,6 percent represented dealer sales, an estimated 15,9 percent represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,1 percent to industry corporate fleets and 2,4 percent to government.

The November 2019 new passenger car market registered a modest but welcomed increase of 392 cars or 1,3 percent to 31 444 units compared with the 31 052 new cars sold in November last year. The car rental industry once again supported domestic volumes, accounting for a substantial 21,9 percent of new cars sales in November 2019.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 10 679 units during November 2019 had recorded a decline of 3 038 units or a fall of 22,1 percent from the 13 717 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month in 2018.

The low-volume medium and heavy truck segments of the industry both performed weaker during the month and at 733 units and 1 882 units respectively reflected a decline of 60 vehicles or a fall of 7,6 percent, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, a decline of 34 units, or a fall of 1,8 percent compared with the corresponding month last year.

November 2019 export sales number at 35 271 vehicles reflected a marginal decline of 306 units, or 0,9 percent, compared with the 35 577 vehicles exported in the same month last year. However, of significance is that vehicle exports, at 374 215 units for the first eleven months of the year, have now already surpassed the previous annual record of 351 139 vehicles exported in 2018.

The overall declining trend in the new vehicle market has continued into November 2019 affected by numerous constraining factors, Naamsa said. The current low economic growth environment and enduring pressure on household disposable income due to rising costs of living are not conducive to uplifting business and consumer confidence. As a result, conditions in the domestic new vehicle market were expected to remain under pressure over the short to medium term.

Of significance, however, is the excellent export performance of the industry with a new annual record achieved with still one month to go in the year. Industry vehicle production levels would continue to benefit from strong vehicle export sales, Naamsa concluded.