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2008-12-19 11:02
Johannesburg - The new year will prove anything but prosperous for the motor industry.

After November, the slowest month this year, with sales down 30% year on year, the proverbial writing was on the wall.

Factory production was scaled down, dealers closed their doors - and they now face another body blow. The weaker rand and falling demand are forcing importers to withdraw products from the market.

McCarthy Motor Holdings recently decided to stop importing the Meiya brand, a range of Chinese bakkies and wagons.

Chairperson Brand Pretorius says there is no question at this stage, however, of halting imports of the two other brands, Chery and Foton.

But he anticipates that many importers will follow McCarthy's lead in the new year.

Combined Motor Holdings (CMH) has, for instance, already announced it will largely scale down its Mandarin Motors operation.

The Meiya competed in the market for less expensive bakkies. "With the weak rand it's impossible to sell bakkies in that category," reckons Pretorius.

He says customers would much rather buy a second-hand Japanese bakkie, such as a three-year-old Hilux or Isuzu, than buy a cheap, new Chinese model.

Pretorius says his group had also been dissatisfied with the quality of the product.

McCarthy is also the busy closing down certain value-service sales points, where about 300 workers will lose their jobs.

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