Technically speaking South Africa’s new vehicle market took a slight turn for the better in March, improving by 2.1 percent year-on-year, but recent political events have put dark clouds of uncertainty over the entire local economy, making it impossible to observe any meaningful trends.
Like virtually all commentators, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) predicts that these recent political events could result in far-reaching consequences for the country’s economy. This has already led to a credit rating downgrade by S&P (with others possibly to follow), while a deep recession and a significantly weaker rand remain risks in the medium to long term. Given what a dire effect all of this would have on the vehicle industry, Naamsa has, for the time being, decided to suspend its usual projections for the local vehicle industry.
However, before former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was ousted during one of the biggest cabinet reshuffles in history, the industry had been showing some green shoots, with gains in January and March after years of sales declines. Last month’s 2.1 percent increase came despite below-normal rental sales, which made up just 6.7 percent of the month’s 48 534 total.
“March’s sales performance is indicative of the positive sentiment in the economy during the past month. There were a few contributing factors, including a strong Rand and falling fuel prices,” said Wesbank’s Rudolf Mahoney. “However, this positivity is going to be short-lived. The current political climate has introduced massive uncertainty in all South African markets. Both business and consumer confidence have been shaken, and this will filter through to the ratings agencies as well,” said Mahoney.
|Rental Industry||6.7 percent|
|1. Toyota||11 055|
|1. Toyota Hilux||3447|
|2. Ford Ranger||3234|
|3. Nissan NP200||1294|
|4. Nissan NP300 / Hardbody||1162|
|5. Isuzu KB||1156|
|6. Chevrolet Utility||840|
|7. Nissan Navara||304|
|8. Toyota Land Cruiser PU||243|
|9. Volkswagen Amarok||111|
|10. Mahindra Scorpio Pik-Up||107|
SOME POPULAR PASSENGER CARS*
|Volkswagen Polo Vivo||2383|
* Full ranking not possible as Hyundai, Kia, BMW and Mercedes refuse to report individual sales figures.