(AP Photo/Michael Probst)
CAPE TOWN - Vehicle sales increased modestly by 0.2percent in October to 51978 units when compared with sales in the same month a year ago, only the second time this year that monthly sales were in positive territory, National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) executive manager Dr Norman Lamprecht said on Friday.

The vehicle sales industry is under pressure due to the weak economy and consumer financial stress.

A TransUnion Auto Information Solutions survey showed last week that consumers continue to spend less on cars, with the average vehicle loan size in the third quarter of 2019 the same size as in the second quarter of 2013, which suggested that consumer buying power had remained flat for six years.

The survey showed consumers were opting for less expensive entry-level vehicles and there was a shift in the third quarter to vehicles priced under R200000.

The Naamsa statistics showed that in October, passenger vehicles sales increased 8.4percent to 35904 units, when compared with 32110 in September, but only increased 2.5percent when compared with October 2018.

Light commercial vehicle sales were 5.9percent lower at 13366, compared with October 2018.

Heavy commercial vehicle sales were 21.1percent lower at 405 units in October, compared with the same month a year before.

Lamprecht said that the rise in aggregate vehicle sales was supported primarily by the car rental sector, which accounted for 20.3percent of sales. Passenger car sales accounted for 28.2percent of total sales.

He said exports increased by 21percent, compared with October 2018, which had pushed exports for the ten-month period to a record high of 338955 units.

The surge in export sales was boosting local production levels, he said.

In 2018, vehicles, ranging from passenger cars to trucks and buses were shipped to 155 countries, which was up from 149 countries the previous year.

Rising exports are also helping to provide the impetus for local manufacturers to invest in expanding their plants. Naamsa said earlier this year up to R60billion could be invested in the next five years.

Toyota was the biggest vehicle sales leader in October by a wide margin, selling 13694 vehicles, followed by Volkswagen South Africa with 9527 vehicle sales.

BUSINESS REPORT