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In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of March, 2015 – released today for public consumption on the website of the Department of Trade & Industry – the Association commented that domestic new vehicle sales, in line with general industry expectations, had registered improvements in light, medium and heavy commercial vehicle sales, but had registered a decline in the consumer driven new car market - compared to the corresponding month last year. The outstanding feature during March, 2015 was the further strong growth in new vehicle exports which had risen by a massive 38.5% compared to the corresponding month last year.

In the event, March 2015 aggregate new vehicle sales at 55 449 units were virtually unchanged from the 55 440 vehicles sold in March last year. Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 55 449 vehicles, an estimated 49 124 units or 88.6% represented dealer sales, 2.8% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.9% to Industry corporate fleets and 4.7% to government. These were estimates due to the fact that Mercedes-Benz currently only supply an aggregate sales number.

The March, 2015 new car market at 35 548 units reflected a decline at 1 096 units or a fall of 3.0% compared to the 36 644 new cars sold in March last year.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses during March, 2015 at 16 808 units reflected a gain of 875 units or an improvement of 5.5% compared to the 15 933 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

Sales of vehicles in the investment-led medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry had registered fairly substantial gains. Medium commercial vehicle sales at 1 104 units and heavy commercial vehicle sales at 1 989 units, reflected an improvement of 89 units or 8.8%, in the case of medium commercials, and an improvement of 141 vehicles or a gain of 7.6% in the case of heavy trucks and buses - compared to the corresponding month last year.

Vehicle exports were now contributing positively to South Africa’s current account of the balance of payments, whilst vehicle imports were declining. Industry new vehicle exports at 34 147 units during March, 2015 had registered exceptionally strong gains compared to the corresponding month last year rising by 9 488 vehicles or 38.5% relative to the 24 659 export sales in March, 2014. The bulk of the improvement was due to the export sales contribution by Mercedes-Benz. Vehicle exports for 2015 were expected to improve by between 20% and 25% in volume terms to a record export number of between 332 000 and 340 000 for the year. The SA vehicle manufacturing industry was showing clear signs of realising its potential, particularly in respect of vehicle exports.

At this stage, NAAMSA continued to anticipate marginal volume growth in domestic sales and the projection was based on an assumption of a slight improvement in South Africa’s economic growth rate, relative stability in automotive industry industrial relations, stable interest rates and credit ratings.

New vehicle industry production would continue to benefit from projected higher export numbers.

Wednesday, 1st April 2015
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