New vehicle sales ended 2012 on a positive note with a year-on-year increase of 1.8 percent in December, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Wednesday.
A total of 46,016 vehicles were sold in December 2012, an improvement of just 825 on the previous year.
The new passenger car market recorded a year-on-year increase of 7.6 percent, which was supported by a strong demand from car rental companies, a sector which accounts for 14.3 percent of total sales.
Export sales recorded a substantial year-on-year increase of 5554 units or 39.2 percent.
Naamsa said that after extensive discussions, Mercedes-Benz would resume full reporting of its new vehicle sales and exports.
In December 2011, the German manufacturer withdrew from reporting its sales to Naamsa after a global directive by its parent company Daimler AG.
Naamsa director Nico Vermeulen said 2012 vehicle sales improved by 9.2 percent to 623,914 units when compared with a total of 571,415 new vehicles sold in South Africa in 2011.
He said export sales performed relatively well during 2012 and stood at 277,844 vehicles, which was the second highest annual export figure on record.
“On balance, 2012 turned out to be a year of relatively solid growth.
“New vehicle sales generally, and new car sales in particular, performed well above initial expectations despite a slowing economy,” said Vermeulen.
He said motor industry-related sales turnover had grown by about 11 percent and reached about R182 billion in 2012.
New vehicle export sales were estimated to have added a further R52bn to the total industry revenue.
Vermeulen said South Africa's track record as a car manufacturer had been firmly established, with vehicle exports currently destined for 148 international markets.
Total industry exports were projected to reach about 361,000 units during 2013, he said.
On the assumption that the South African economy would grow in real terms by three percent in 2013, Naamsa projected an increase of 7.3 percent in vehicle domestic sales. - Sapa