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SA market slump: Toyota still No.1

2014-02-04 09:44

NEW TOYOTA FLAGSHIP: Toyota SA is leading market vehicle sales but a slump is anticipated. The new Corolla arrives in March and the automaker hopes it will help sales. Image: Quickpic

• Toyota retains market leadership
• Export sales drop as manufacturers change model lines
• New Corolla expected to boost sales from March

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Toyota South Africa sold 10 659 new vehicles to start 2014 as the market leader in South Africa. This figure represents a 20.1% market share in a pie that has decreased by 6.8% compared to January 2013.

Toyota SA's senior VP of sales and marketing Calvyn Hamman said: “The market shows clear signs of slowing, despite the normal seasonal anomalies that we expect in January."

Hamman refers to the general practice of many new vehicle owners and some vehicle brands to suspend vehicle registration in December and register it in the new model year. This leads to a drop in recorded sales in December and a jump in sales in January.

SLUMP AHEAD?

Hamman said: “We expect that the market in 2014 will stagnate at 2013 levels or even drop somewhat and the first month’s sales is evidence of this.

“This is due in part to the underlying economic drivers, such as increasing inflation, a weakening rand and growing consumer debt. The recent interest rate increase, albeit small, sent a further negative signal to customers.”

According to Toyota, vehicle rental purchases, at 7154 units or 13.4% of overall sales provided an unseasonal boost to vehicle sales, while retail level sales – a barometer of private buyers’ economic reality – represented 80.9% of all vehicles sold. In December private purchases represented 82% of all sales.

January sales and production figures were also influenced by production changes on certain high volume models, says the automaker. For Toyota the preparations for the new Corolla, set for local sale from early March, meant that the 1 110 units sold in January were not a true reflection of market demand for Corolla.

'LOWER SALES EXPECTATIONS'

Other manufacturers switched model lines and the subsequent drop in production influenced total vehicle exports, which dropped by 19.7% over the same month in 2013, says Toyota.

Hamman said: “Despite the lower expectations of sales in 2014 we should keep in mind that January’s retail sales’ levels are still higher or similar to the market peak in 2007.

"We expect that the market will maintain these levels or decline somewhat during the rest of the year as vehicle prices adjust to the weakening rand and customers change purchasing behaviour in reaction to the increasing cost of debt.”
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