New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Opinion: The PR bailout

2009-06-03 08:20

Wilmer Muller

One has to admire the motor industry for its positive attitude during these tough times… With the current economic climate crippling many car manufacturers, most of these companies impress us with their PR bailout.

So, with the latest vehicles sales just in, my inbox filled up with manufacturer e-mails with their take on it. And despite the dire state of affairs, auto propaganda is in top gear.

Let me share some quotes from the PR Gestapo:
- “Sales of passenger and light commercial vehicles show signs of stabilising.”
- “While the motor industry, and the global economy, are certainly not out of the woods yet there are indications that a more positive mood could be emerging and that we may be near the bottom of the economic trough.”
- “Consumers will increasingly feel the positive impact of a significant decrease in the interest rate over the past months with indications of more to come. Another positive is the current strength of the Rand that will act to reduce imported costs. These factors can only be expected to impact some months down the way as confidence builds.”
- “Chrysler South Africa (Pty) Ltd, importers of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles as well as MOPAR branded parts and accessories has continued its already impressive 2009 sales drive.”
- “Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealerships have upped their game and through a number of aggressive marketing strategies, have managed to win over many new customers, more so than in any other month during 2009.”
- “Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa continued to command a strong Number Three position by sales volume, once again out-pacing the market trend.”
- “Opel Corsa Utility - Market leader in its segment for the 50thstraight month!
- “Renault South Africa continued to show positive growth reflecting a 2.3% gain in market share - up 0.3% compared to April 2009 and 1% on May 2008 - reaching its highest market share level since August 2007.”
- “Our Polo range was again the most popular Brand in SA with sales of 1,447 units recorded. The Polo range has consistently been the best selling range in the SA market over a protracted period.”
- “Expected lower levels of inflation in coming months together with possibly even lower interest rates will ease pressure of both households and businesses and potentially lead to easier economic circumstances towards the end of 2009 with the prospect of some recovery during 2010.”

Looking at this spin, which is very familiar PR lingua of previous months, it appears as if all is well in the auto world! Not so…

The reality is:
- May was apparently one of the poorest sales months on a daily sales rate basis to hit South Africa in recent history.
- Last month a total of 18 896 new passenger cars were sold to local car buyers - sales were 26% down on May 2008. 
- Although passenger car sales in May, including sales not reported to Naamsa, increased by 13% in comparison to April.
- The January to May 2009 new passenger car market therefore recorded sales -31.5% below the same period for 2008.

Also, the hope pinned on reduced interest rates won’t boost sales significantly – too many South Africans will still struggle to get vehicle finance, while repossessions are in full throttle.

Then of course there is the export “lifeline”… Well, exports will also remain under pressure. Reason is that experts believe the economies of export destinations are forecast to shrink further this year and will remain weak in 2010.

No matter how you spin it, its doom and gloom for the auto industry for sometime to come… 


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