Naamsa says South Africa’s new vehicle sales dropped 26,3 percent to 33 515 units (slightly above July 2020's effort) in August 2020.

Export sales at 23 337 units, meanwhile, registered a “huge fall” of 46,9 percent compared with the same month in 2019.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 33 515 vehicles, Naamsa says an estimated 30 875 units or 92,1 percent represented dealer sales, 4,2 percent sales to government, 2,9 percent to industry corporate fleets and an estimated 0,8 percent represented sales to the vehicle rental industry.

In addition, Naamsa said the August 2020 new passenger car market at 19 545 units had registered a year-on-year fall of 32,6 percent. The contribution by the car rental industry remained “negligible” and comprised a mere eight units over the month.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 11 336 units during August represented a decline of 19,4 percent. Interestingly, however, sales for medium and heavy truck segments of the industry reflected a “welcomed uptick”, and at 799 units and 1 835 units, respectively, showed an increase of 7,7 percent and 9,0 percent.

“New vehicle demand improved slightly compared to the performance of the previous two months as South Africa’s lockdown restrictions eased further to Level 2 in August 2020,” Naamsa said.

“However, activity in the new vehicle market is expected to remain low for the remainder of the year due to the uncertainties relating to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and as consumers and businesses continue to adapt to short-term budget pressures.

“Furthermore, not only will the economy have to contend with consequences of the economic lockdown, it now has to deal with further rolling blackouts which comes at the worst possible time for the South African economy. Eskom announced that the heightened risk of load-shedding will haunt the South African economy for another year. All this point to an already hard-hit economy with no expectations for a quick recovery any time soon,” it added.

Naamsa said vehicle export numbers “seemed to have recovered to some extent, which bodes well for local manufacturers, although the numbers are still way off the same point last year”.

The positive news, says Naamsa, is the domestic automotive industry’s major export destinations are starting to ease their lockdown restrictions, with many “actively stimulating their new vehicle markets with financial government incentives”.