In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of September, 2015 – released today for public consumption on the website of the Department of Trade & Industry – the Association commented that current conditions in the automotive industry reflected a further weakening in domestic sales contrasted by record vehicle exports.
Given the present difficult economic environment in South Africa, this trend was likely to continue over the medium term. The latest figures showed that the recession in
domestic new vehicle sales had accelerated further during September, 2015. Export sales of new motor vehicles had however achieved a new milestone reaching a record monthly total of 35 181 vehicles.
September, 2015 aggregate new vehicle sales at 55 322 had declined by 5 460 units or 9.0% from the 60 782 vehicles sold in September last year. Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 55 322 vehicles, an estimated 42 993 units or 77.7% represented dealer sales, 15.3% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3.7% constituted sales to government and 3.3% to industry corporate fleets.
Sales of new cars in the consumer driven new car market at 37 309 units reflected a substantial decline of 5 656 units or a fall of 13.2% compared to the 42 965 new cars sold in September last year. Consumers were reluctant to purchase durable goods despite attractive incentive packages on offer by most automotive companies. Intense competition in the market continued to put pressure on margins throughout the automotive value chain.
An interesting feature of the September new car market was that 21.9% or more than 1 in every 5 new cars sold had been purchased by the car rental industry.
Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses during September, 2015 at 15 121 had held up relatively well and reflected a marginal improvement of 45 units or 0.3% compared to the 15 076 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.
Sales of vehicles in the investment driven medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry had registered modest declines. Medium commercial vehicle sales at 890 units and heavy commercial vehicle sales at 2 002 units, reflected a slight fall of 12 units or 1.3% in the case of medium commercials and a more substantial decline of 163 vehicles or a fall of 8.9% in the case of heavy trucks and buses – compared to the corresponding month last year.
Vehicle exports had shown strong upward momentum reaching an all time monthly record. Industry new vehicle exports at 35 181 units during September, 2015 had registered further growth compared to the corresponding month last year rising by 4 391 vehicles or 14.3% compared to the 30 790 export sales in September, 2014. Vehicle exports for 2015 remained on target to improve, in annual terms, by over 20% to a projected industry record export number of about 335 000 for the year (2014: 276 873 export units).
Looking forward, it was anticipated that domestic new car and commercial vehicle sales would remain under pressure. The slight recovery in recent consumer confidence and the Purchasing Managers’ Index provided some hope of stabilisation in sales around current monthly levels.
For the year as a whole, industry new car and commercial vehicle sales projections were likely to be revised down. In contrast, automotive industry vehicle production remained on a very strong footing and the higher new vehicle export sales would continue to support the industry’s manufacturing output and contribute positively to South Africa’s balance of payments.
The expected improvement in global economic growth in 2015 through 2017 should continue to support higher exports of South African produced vehicles to close on 100 international markets.