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In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of July, 2014 – the Association commented that domestic new vehicle sales had shown continued resilience, for the second month in a row, despite indications of slower economic growth, high levels of industrial action, rising inflationary pressures and a further increase in interest rates. The domestic market would however face head winds over the short to medium term in contrast to developments internationally which were characterised by expanding vehicle sales in China, the United States and Europe. Barring further industrial relations instability and assuming the resumption of normal production levels, the expected improvement in global economic conditions should benefit SA vehicle exports during the balance of 2014 and in 2015.

In the event, July 2014 aggregate new vehicle sales at 57 670 vehicles had registered a modest decline of 891 vehicles or a fall of 1.5% compared to the 58 561 vehicles sold in July last year. The July, 2014 export sales had been impacted by the steel industry strike and total vehicle exports at 22 773 units reflected a decline of 4 364 vehicles or a fall of 16.1% compared to the 27 137 vehicles exported in July last year. Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 57 670 vehicles, 78.8% represented dealer sales, 14.2% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.7% to Industry corporate fleets and 3.3% to government.

Assisted by a strong contribution by the car rental industry, the new car market during July, 2014 had performed relatively well and at 39 945 units reflected a decline of 418 units or a fall of 1.0% compared to the 40 363 new cars sold in July last year.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 15 081 units during July, 2014 reflected a decline of 312 units or 2.0% compared to the 15 393 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

Compared to the corresponding month last year, sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry at 856 units and 1 788 units, respectively, had also registered declines with medium commercial vehicle sales showing a decline of 128 units or 13.0%, whilst heavy trucks and buses had registered a more modest decline of 33 units or -1.8%.

Industry new vehicle exports during July, 2014 at 22 773 vehicles had registered a substantial decline of 4 364 units or a fall of 16.1% compared to the 27 137 vehicles exported in July last year. The high incidence of industrial action experienced in South Africa over the past year had proved severely damaging to the SA economy at a time when South Africa urgently required stronger growth, faster employment creation and a narrowing of the current account and fiscal deficits. The restoration of and improvement in domestic and foreign investor confidence represented a necessary pre-condition in this regard.

The outlook for the SA automotive sector for the balance of 2014 would prove challenging. A domestic environment characterised by relatively low economic growth, rising interest rates and above inflation new vehicle price increases – will not be conducive to growth in new vehicle sales. The domestic market was expected to register a decline, in volume terms, of around 5% compared to 2013. The main impact is likely to be in the new car and light commercial vehicle sectors.

Whilst exports during July, 2014 had been affected by the almost four week long strike in the steel and engineering industry, an improvement in export numbers was anticipated for the balance of 2014 on the back of normalised vehicle production schedules and improved growth in global markets.

Friday, 1st August 2014
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