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SA car sales March 2017: The calm before the storm

2017-04-03 19:54

NEW CAR SALES: More than 40 000 car buyers took delivery of new vehicles in In March 2017. Image: iStock

Cape Town - South Africa’s new vehicle industry grew 2.1% in March 2017, with total sales of 48 534 vehicles according to the latest data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).

This follows a minor decline of 0.1% in February and growth of 3.7% in January. New vehicle sales, year-to-date, are up 1.9%.

Spending money confidently

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 48 534 vehicles, an estimated 42 772 units or 88.1% represented dealer sales, 6.7% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.0% government and 2.2% industry corporate fleets.

Domestic sales of industry new light commercial vehicles (LCVs), bakkies and mini buses at 14 882 units during March 2017 reflected a marginal improvement of 169 units or a gain of 1.1% compared to the 14 713 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

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Rudolf Mahoney, head of brand and communications at WesBank, said: “March’s sales performance is indicative of the positive sentiment in the economy during the past month. There were a few contributing factors, including a strong Rand and falling fuel prices.

"Consumers had many reasons to feel confident enough to spend money, and this is immediately evident in the new vehicle sales.” 

This sales performance and consumer confidence is reflected in the demand for vehicle finance. WesBank says its internal data shows growth of 8% for new vehicle finance, compared to March 2016. This past month also saw the average new vehicle price reach an all-time high, representing an 8% increase year-on-year.

The strong demand for new vehicles was not at the expense of used vehicle sales, where application volumes were 13.4% higher than the same time last year. Consumers shopping in the used market during March were also spending 8.6% more on average, than last year.

Mahoney concludes: “However, this positivity is going to be short-lived. The current political climate has introduced massive uncertainty in all South African markets. Both business and consumer confidence have been shaken, and this will filter through to the ratings agencies as well. The Rand’s sharp decline has already wiped out the benefit of lower fuel prices, and if it continues to deteriorate, new vehicle prices will follow suit.”


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