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SA car sales: 2017 starts with modest growth

2017-02-02 08:05

POSITIVE START: January 2017 laid a positive foundation for new vehicle sales for the rest of the year. Image: iStock

Cape Town - In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for January , the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Naamsa) commented that new vehicle sales had started 2017 on a positive note.

Export sales of new motor vehicles had, however, registered a decline principally due to factory refurbishment work at one of the major plants.

Positive signs 

In the event, January 2017's aggregate new vehicle sales at 50 333 units had registered a welcome, albeit modest, improvement of 1819 vehicles or a gain of 3.7% compared to the 48 514 vehicles sold in January 2016. January 2017 export sales at 11 659 units reflected a decline of 1342 vehicles or a fall of 10.3% compared to the 13 001 vehicles exported in January last year.

Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 50 333 vehicles, an estimated 35 379 units or 70.3% represented dealer sales, 23.8% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.1% to Industry corporate fleets and 2.8% to government. 

For the first time in fourteen months, the new car market had registered an increase on the corresponding month of the previous year. In the event, the January 2017 new car market at 36 794 units reflected a fairly substantial improvement of 1661 cars or a gain of 4.7% compared to the 35 133 new cars sold in January last year. The car rental industry had made a strong contribution and had accounted for 31.8% of new car sales in January 2017.  

Domestic sales of industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 11 977 units during January 2017 reflected an improvement of 187 units or a gain of 1.6% compared to the 11 790 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.


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Stronger rand

Domestically, says Naamsa, a number of key indicators including the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and the Reserve Bank’s leading indicator held out the possibility of a significant improvement in South Africa’s medium term economic outlook. Particularly noteworthy was the substantial increase in the leading business cycle indicator which had now risen for four consecutive months.

Together with the positive impact of the easing of drought conditions and projected global economic growth of around 3.4%, as well as rand strength which should benefit new vehicle pricing, these factors should contribute positively to sales of new motor vehicles, whilst export sales were expected to benefit from the projected improvement in global economic conditions.

Premised on expected improvement in key economic indicators, Naamsa predicts that domestic sales could regain some traction during the course of the year and, at this stage, Naamsa anticipated aggregate annual volume improvement of up to 3.5%.    

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