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New vehicles still in demand

Sep 04 2012 12:02 Sapa

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Johannesburg - New vehicle sales continued to grow steadily in August, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) said on Tuesday.

"New vehicle sales... maintained the steady growth trend of the first seven months of 2012," Naamsa said.

Sales in the major segments had registered "relatively decent gains" compared to the corresponding month last year.

Aggregate industry domestic sales grew 9.4% to 56 253 vehicles from 51 409 units last August. 

Toyota sold 12 220 vehicles while Volkswagen sold 9 947.

Export sales grew by a marginal 0.8% to 25 024 vehicles in August.

Naamsa expected export sales to improve for the rest of the year and into 2013 as various export programmes were ramped up.

"Exports of light commercial vehicles in particular were expected to increase substantially in 2013."

Total domestic sales for the first eight months of the year were 11.3% ahead of the corresponding eight months in 2011.

Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA) provides a single total sales number for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and export sales. Estimates for MBSA commercial vehicle sales by segment were compiled using historical trends and forecasting techniques.

Excluding MBSA figures, 81% of industry vehicle sales went to dealers, 11.5% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3.9% to corporate fleet sales and 3.5% to the government.

New car sales in August were close to five-year highs, Naamsa said.

"The August 2012 new car market, for the second month in succession, had been supported by strong demand on the part of car rental companies with the car rental industry accounting for 15.2% of total sales."

Naamsa expected the contribution by car rental companies to remain high over the next few months as the car rental industry continued to re-fleet.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses reflected reasonable growth in August, increasing by 731 units to 13 637 units compared to the same month last year. This includes estimates for MBSA commercial vehicle sales.

Sales of vehicles in the medium truck segment grew 86 units to an estimated 815 in August.

The heavy truck segment declined by 126 units or 8% to 1 456 units in August compared to the corresponding month last year.

Naamsa was fairly positive about the automotive industry.

"Despite prospects of a lower economic growth environment, the automotive sector continued to perform remarkably well," Naamsa said.

Historically low interest rates would continue to support domestic sales, as well as improving demand for credit by households and businesses.

"The highly competitive trading environment, attractive incentives and new model introductions would also support demand."

Naamsa expected domestic sales to grow by around 10% during 2012.

However, 2013 could be more difficult.

"Looking ahead to 2013, increasing inflationary pressures on the back of expected higher fuel and food prices and the impact of rand weakness on new vehicle pricing were likely to result in a more difficult trading environment and more subdued growth in vehicle sales," Naamsa said.

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