According to Naamsa, new vehicle sales in South Africa fell by 1,0 percent to 552 190 units in 2018, compared with the total of 557 703 units sold on local shores in 2017.

This annual decline, says Naamsa, reflects the “weak macro-economic environment, pressure on consumers’ disposable income and fragile business and consumer confidence”. The associated added that the 0,25 percent increase in interest rates announced for November 2018 also “impacted on new vehicle financing and sales”.

In 2018, some 365 246 passenger vehicles were sold in South Africa, down 0,8 percent year on year. The light commercial segment, too, fell (by 2,4 percent), to 159 452 units. The medium (at 7 913 units) and heavy (19 579 units) commercial segments, however, both grew (the former by 0,3 percent and the latter by 6,5 percent).

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Naamsa said the fall in new car and light commercial vehicle sales occurred despite a “strong contribution” from the rental sector, “attractive sales incentives” by automotive companies and an “improvement in new vehicle affordability in real terms”.

Interestingly, the association added that market conditions in the two sectors “continued to be characterised by a buying down trend, with sales of entry-level vehicles, small utility vehicles and crossovers performing well in relative terms”. The premium car segment, however, continued to experience “significant pressure”.

And exports? Well, here South Africa enjoyed an annual record industry figure with total vehicle exports at 351 154 units reflecting an improvement of 13 058 units or a gain of 3,9 percent year on year. Exports of light commercial vehicles and heavy trucks in particular had registered substantial gains, in volume terms, of 20,9 percent and 17,6 percent, respectively.

Looking ahead, Naamsa predicted an improvement of around 1,0% in aggregate sales volumes for 2019.
Naamsa sales: 2018 compared with earlier years*Table courtesy of Naamsa