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2015-03-03 13:57

SMILES ALL ROUND: More happy vehicle sales managers and customers through February 2015 with vehicle sales marginally higher than a year earlier. Image: Shutterstock

New vehicle sales in February 2015 have grown 1.1%, year-on-year, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.

Passenger car sales are up 1.5% with 34 909 vehicles sold. The light commercial segment saw an increase of 1.8% or 15 139 units however growth in this segment has slowed compared to performance in previous months.

The marginal increase in sales can be attributed to a continued appetite for credit.

'AFFORDABILITY REMAINS KEY'

WesBank’s data shows that vehicle finance applications are up 12.7% year-on-year. Of this, new vehicle finance applications saw growth of 7.6% compared to February 2014. However, the bulk of growth in credit applications are for used vehicles, which saw an increase of 15.3%.

Rudolf Mahoney, head of research at WesBank, said: “Affordability still remains key for new vehicle sales and buyers either buying down, or considering their options in the used market.”

WesBank reports that sales of entry-level vehicles have grown substantially over the last 12 months. In February 2014, A-segment (entry level) vehicles accounted for 22% of total passenger vehicle sales, while in February 2015 the same segment accounted for 30% of sales.

FUEL PRICE INCREASE

Buyers’ budgets will continue to be under pressure from March as fuel prices are set to increase at least 17% with a 96c/litre increase for 93 octane (at the reef), and an additional 80.5c/litre fuel levy being added to the price in April.

Mahoney said: “The upcoming increases in the fuel price represent a big percentage of motorists’ monthly mobility costs, and consequently directly impacts their monthly budget.

“Should oil prices continue to normalise, and the rand fails to improve, higher mobility costs will continue to put more onus on affordability.”

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