New car sales in January were the best in five years due to strong demand from car rental companies, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) said on Thursday.
“The January 2012 new car market represented the highest January month in the past five years and had received support from strong demand by car rental companies, with the car rental industry accounting for about 17% of total new car sales,” Naamsa said.
Aggregate industry new car sales in January improved by 2465 units or 7.5% compared to the 32 963 new cars sold in January 2011.
This included figures from Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA).
Last month, MBSA announced that as a result of a global directive from its parent company Daimler AG (Germany), it would not report its detailed sales data for the time being.
MBSA would, however, still provide a single total sales number for passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
Overall new vehicle sales in January improved seven percent compared to the same month last year.
Aggregate industry sales – including MBSA – increased by 3144 units to 48 251 vehicles in January this year from 45 107 units in January last year.
Excluding MBSA vehicles, dealer sales made up 79% of vehicle sales in January. The vehicle rental industry accounted for 13%, government five percent, and industry corporate fleet sales three percent.
Total commercial vehicle sales improved by 250 units from 12,144 units in January last year to 12,394 units this year.
Exports of South African produced vehicles – excluding MBSA – improved by 260 units to 10,445 in January 2012.
“The latest monthly export figure reflected the fact that automotive factories only resumed operations from the middle of January 2012,” Naamsa said.
Export sales were expected to improve from February onwards.
South Africa exports vehicles to 77 countries.
“Export sales to Europe were likely to soften as a result of the recession and debt crisis in the Eurozone.
“However, projected higher exports to African countries, and factoring in the contribution of the Ford global compact vehicle export programme, should enable the industry to record growth and exceed the total number of vehicle exports of 271,763 units in 2011.”
Naamsa expected modest growth in total industry sales for 2012.
“The direction of the global economy remained uncertain and international markets were characterised by volatility and turbulence. This could impact on future export sales,” Naamsa said.