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In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of February, 2015 – released today for public consumption on the website of the Department of Trade & Industry - the Association commented that domestic new vehicle sales had been in line with general industry expectations and had registered modest improvements, in the case of new car and light commercial vehicle sales, compared to the corresponding month last year. Moreover, as anticipated, export sales of new motor vehicles had recorded further strong growth and the SA vehicle manufacturing and exporting industry was now showing clear signs of realising its full potential, particularly in respect of vehicle exports.

In the event, February 2015 aggregate new vehicle sales at 52 368 units registered a gain of 584 vehicles or 1.1% compared to the 51 784 vehicles sold in February last year. Moreover, the February 2015 export sales at 29 760 units reflected a remarkable improvement of 7 819 vehicles or a gain on 35.6% compared to the 21 941 vehicles exported in February last year.

Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 52 368 vehicles, an estimated 44 347 units or 84.7% represented dealer sales, 7.1% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 4.6% to Industry corporate fleets and 3.6% to government. These were estimates due to the fact that Mercedes-Benz currently only supply an aggregate sales number.

The February, 2015 new car market had recorded modest gains and at 34 909 units reflected a welcome improvement of 525 units or a gain of 1.5% compared to the 34 384 new cars sold in February last year. Despite the lack of sales data on the contribution by Mercedes-Benz to car rental sales, the car rental Industry had again made a positive contribution and had accounted for 9.9% of new car sales in February, 2015.

Domestic sales of industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 15 139 units during February, 2015 reflected a gain of 268 units or an improvement of 1.8% compared to the 14 871 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

In contrast, sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry had registered fairly substantial declines. Medium commercial vehicle sales at 768 units and heavy commercial vehicle sales at 1 553 units, reflected a decline of 151 units or 16.4% in the case of medium commercials and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, a decline of 57 vehicles or a fall of 3.5%, compared to the corresponding month last year.

Industry new vehicle exports at 29 760 during February, 2015 had registered, as expected, strong gains compared to the corresponding month last year rising by 7 819 vehicles or 35.6%. NAAMSA anticipated that on the back of normalised industry production, exports for 2015 could improve by up to 20% to a record of between 320 000 and 330 000 vehicle exports.

The 2015 / 2016 Budget proposals had identified nine strategic priorities for growth and development, as part of the National Development Plan. The most critical ones comprised the need for the early and effective resolution of South Africa’s energy challenge and the need to reduce workplace conflict and facilitate a more constructive industrial relations environment in South Africa. The poor economic performance over the past two years could in large part be attributed to the negative impact of widespread and prolonged industrial action in many sectors in South Africa.

Domestically, the outlook for 2015, at this stage, remained one of marginal volume growth in domestic sales – principally based on projections of an improvement in South Africa’s economic growth rate to around 2.0% as well as anticipated relative stability in automotive industry industrial relations, moderating consumer price inflation and stable interest rates and credit ratings. The key imponderable revolved around security and stability of electricity supply.

New vehicle industry production would be boosted by the higher export numbers.

Monday, 2nd March 2015
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