This photo provided by Chevrolet shows the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.
JOHANNESBURG - New car sales surged year-on-year last month by 16.4percent on the back of aggressive sales incentives and replacement demand.

Azar Jammine, the chief economist at Econometrix, said on Friday that there was also “statistical noise” in the figures, because the passenger vehicle market was very weak in November last year.

However, Jammine said the sales figures confirmed an increase in spending, despite the low level of business confidence, and that the economy was not collapsing.

Jammine pointed to the strong retail sales figures for September and the improvement in the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and believed people where underestimating the strength of the economy in the past few months.

“I think we could get an upside surprise in GDP growth and a lot of pundits for the first time in many years will have to revise their GDP growth forecasts upwards instead of downwards,” he said.

Statistics South Africa is scheduled to release the GDP estimates for the third quarter tomorrow. The South African economy expanded by 2.5percent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter of this year following two quarters of decline in real GDP.

Slowdown

Jammine anticipates a slowdown, but not a collapse, in the rate of growth in new vehicle sales in the first half of next year, because there had been a strong rise in the rate of vehicle sales in second half of this year.

Figures released on Friday revealed that new car sales grew last month by 16.4percent to 32821 units from the 28207 cars sold in November last year.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles declined last month by 7.4percent year-on-year to 14587 unit sales and medium commercial vehicles by 15.7percent to 688 units, while heavy truck and bus sales increased by 1.9percent to 1658 units.

Rudolf Mahoney, the head of brand and communications at WesBank, said the increase in new vehicle sales last month was the sixth consecutive month of growth in the market and was attributable to three main factors.

Mahoney said there was an ageing car park and the average replacement cycle was now 44 months, which meant there were a lot of cars in the market that were out of maintenance plans and with high mileage and customers wanting to re-enter the market. He said massive marketing incentives and the shortage of quality used vehicle stock that had resulted in used car inflation was also boosting new vehicle sales.

Nedbank’s group economic unit said vehicle sales were likely to pick up in the months ahead off a low base, with the interest rate cut adding some boost.

However, it said this trend would be subdued as the adverse political and subdued economic climates dampened the recovery while the rand’s renewed weakness was likely to lift prices.

Export sales of new vehicles declined by 13.7percent last month to 27178 vehicles from the 31493 vehicles exported in November last year.

Nico Vermeulen, the director of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, said that based on the latest export figures, it was clear that industry export numbers for this year would come in below original expectations. He said the decline in vehicle exports last month could be attributed to the lagged effect of inclement weather, which had affected Durban Port operations and production at Toyota South Africa’s plant in Durban.

He said Volkswagen South Africa’s plant was also gearing up for the production of new Polo models to be launched early next year.

-BUSINESS REPORT