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The Naamsa numbers are in and they reveal that South African vehicle sales grew for the third consecutive year in 2012.
The year saw a total sales volume of 623 914 vehicles, 52 499 more than last year, representing an increase of about 9.2 percent.
Although the future remains uncertain, the figures also show the numbers are inching closer to the all-time record of 714 315 units achieved (pre-recession) in 2006.
Crunching the numbers, passenger vehicle sales were up 11.3 percent in 2012 (439 997 units), while light commercials were up 4.6 percent (156 170). Medium and heavy commercial vehicles posted gains of 6.0 and 2.8 percent respectively.
However the vehicle sales growth subsided towards the end of the year, with December's figures just 1.8 percent up on the same month in 2011.
Despite even gloomier conditions in traditional export markets like Europe, the number of cars we shipped overseas also increased to record the second highest figure ever, 277 844. This was largely fuelled by increased exports into growing markets such as China, Australia and other African countries.
THE YEAR AHEAD
Naamsa predicts modest growth in the South African market this year, on the back of a projected economic growth of around three percent in real terms.
The organisation expects the overall market to grow by 7.3 percent to a total figure of around 669 400 units, supported by positive factors like historically low interest rates, easier access to finance and increased new model choice.
However, Naamsa cautions that the weaker rand and consequent inflationary pressures (which might see the interest rate increasing towards the end of the year) could put pressure on the market.
Look out for our report on the top selling vehicles of 2012 tomorrow.