JOHANNESBURG – Although there were signs of green shoots in the South African new vehicle market in September, it is still a long way from recovering to pre-Covid levels.
According to figures released by Naamsa, new vehicle sales rose by 11.6 percent month-on-month, with September 2020 seeing a total tally of 37 403 units. While this is clearly a step on the right direction, overall sales are still 23.9 percent down versus the same month last year. Year-to-date, the SA vehicle market is down 33.4 percent, versus 2019.
The passenger car market saw the most worrying year-on-year decline of 31.2 percent, as the rental market continues to be all but dormant, but it was a far more encouraging picture for bakkies and other light commercial vehicles, with this sector declining by just 8.9 percent. The medium and heavy truck segments saw respective declines of 13.9 percent and 5.8 percent.
While Naamsa is no longer reporting individual vehicle sales numbers, Toyota did disclose that it sold 4252 Hilux bakkies during September, which is a staggering number considering the economic situation. This comes as Toyota prepares to launch a facelifted Hilux in October, so it’s likely that there were some aggressive deals out there.
Toyota, of course, was the top-selling manufacturer in September, moving 9435 units during the month, while Volkswagen followed in a distant second with 5458 units and Ford with 3678.
The best of the rest were Hyundai, with 2623 sales, Nissan (2612), Suzuki (1787), Renault (1651), Mercedes-Benz (1474), Kia (1436) and Isuzu (1197).
Ford exported the most vehicles in September, with 6995 Rangers shipped abroad, and it was followed by Volkswagen’s Polo (6344), Merc’s C-Class (6105) and BMW’s X3 (4773). Overall export figures are improving, Naamsa says, but economic conditions continue stifle the motor industry, both locally and abroad.
Uptick in business activity
“The easing of lockdown restrictions to level 1 during the month contributed to the uptick in business activity and new vehicle demand and drove the further improvement in business conditions in the South African manufacturing sector,” Naamsa said in response to September’s sales figures.
“However, business conditions remain far from normal and the new vehicle market is
expected to remain under pressure in the current economic scenario,” the association added.
WesBank’s marketing head Lebogang Gaoaketse echoed these sentiments: “The month-on-month increase in sales is more reassuring in real terms than the gradual improvement in year-on-year performance over the past three months. There are clear signs of recovery, although there remains a long road to full recovery.”
Gaoaketse also noted an increase in finance applications versus September last year.
“Whether it remains pent-up demand or merely more consumer and business optimism in the market, there are reassuring levels of demand.
“While this isn’t currently translating into sales, it bodes well for the continued recovery of the market as affordability slowly improves.”