Best seller: Ford's Ranger narrowly outsold the Toyota Hilux in April.

After experiencing modest growth during the first quarter of this year, South Africa’s new vehicle market took a significant plunge in April, although the placement of the public holidays could have influenced the outcome to a large degree.

According to Naamsa, a total of 34 956 vehicles were sold during April, which is 13.4 percent down on April last year. Passenger car sales fell by 13.7 percent, while light commercials were down 13.3 percent, medium commercials by 3.8 percent and heavies by 12.1 percent.

Although the configuration of public holidays no doubt played a role, with the Easter weekend having fallen in April this year versus March last year, Naamsa warned that the extraordinary political events that occurred at the end of March tarnished the industry’s prospects for the remainder of 2017.

Tough times ahead

It warned that political and social polarisation, along with lower economic growth prospects would continue to weigh down on consumer and business confidence. Given how vehicle sales are directly linked to confidence levels, as well as interest rates and the exchange rate (which determines vehicle prices) the risk for the remainder of the year was on the downside.

Interest rate risk

According to Wesbank, confidence has been shaken by the news that ratings agencies have given SA’s economy a ‘junk status’ label: “The deteriorating rand has already resulted in a notable fuel price increase and the prospect of negative GDP growth is also likely to result in a cycle of interest rate hikes.

“Consumers who did purchase cars last month reacted sharply to these factors – WesBank’s data shows a 12.6% increase in vehicle finance agreements with fixed interest rates, compared to March, indicating that consumers are hedging the risk of possible future interest rate increases.”

Exports down, for now

Export sales also took a plunge in April, down 25.5 percent year on year, although reasonably positive global growth projections are likely to ensure a return to growth.

With the IMF projecting global growth of around 3.6 percent, Naamsa expects export sales to improve for the remainder of the year.

Hilux vs Ranger

In the local sales battle, it was a close call between Toyota’s Hilux and Ford’s Ranger bakkies, the latter taking the overall sales crown by just five units. 

Toyota’s Fortuner SUV also enjoyed a relatively strong month, placing third overall with 985 sales. Its arch-rival from Ford, the now-locally-produced Everest, just missed a top 10 placing, with 414 sales.

THE NUMBERS: APRIL 2017

Sales channels

Dealerships 90.1%
Rental Industry 4.3%
Corporates 3.1%
Government 2.5%

Top companies

1. Toyota 7528
2. Volkswagen 5761
3. Ford 4422
4. AMH/AAD 2912
5. Nissan 2860
6. GM/Isuzu 2832
7. Mercedes-Benz 1628
8. Renault 1489
9. BMW 1281
10. Mazda 937

Top bakkies

1. Ford Ranger 1982
2. Toyota Hilux 1977
3. Nissan NP200 1191
4. Isuzu KB 1049
5. Nissan NP300 Hardbody 780
6. Chevrolet Utility 764
7. Toyota Land Cruiser PU 204
8. Volkswagen Amarok 169
9. Nissan Navara 156
10. Mahindra Scorpio Pik-Up 59

Some popular passenger cars*

1. Volkswagen Polo Vivo 1642
2. Volkswagen Polo 1581
3. Toyota Fortuner 985
4. Toyota Corolla/Auris/Quest 919
5. Ford Fiesta 875
6. Toyota Etios 698
7. Ford EcoSport 543
8. Renault Kwid 537
9. Renault Sandero 488
10. Toyota Rav4 426

* Full ranking not possible as Hyundai, Kia, BMW and Mercedes refuse to report individual sales figures.

IOL Motoring

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