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
|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.