Johannesburg - Contrary to the positive sentiments widely felt across the country, the motor industry’s year actually got off to a gloomy start, with year-on-year sales declining by 8.9 percent.
Just 45 888 new vehicles were sold in January 2018, down from 50 386 in January last year.
Passenger cars took the biggest knock, down 11.6 percent year-on-year, and rental industry accounted for more than a fifth of the 36 908 sales.
Light commercial vehicles saw a much smaller decline of 2.1 percent, a sure sign of more buyers moving from cars to double cab bakkies.
It was a mixed bag in the truck and bus industry, with medium commercial vehicle sales declining by 6.1 percent year on year and the heavies seeing a 4.5 percent growth.
However, despite the shaky start to the year, Naamsa is cautiously predicting better times ahead, particularly with the Reserve Bank’s leading indicator and the Purchasing Manager’s Index showing solid improvements.
“The considerable appreciation in the value of the rand will reduce inflationary pressures and serve to enhance consumers’ disposable income,” Naamsa said.
“Combined with the recent positive political developments and improved business confidence, it is possible for economic growth in 2018 to surpass current expectations.”
However much still depends on the February 2018 budget and government’s commitment to disciplined fiscal management, the association added.
Assuming that South Africa avoids a further downgrade during the first quarter, Naamsa anticipates that economic growth could recover to a level above 1.5 percent in 2018, which could lead to new vehicle sales growth of up to four percent.
On the new vehicle sales charts, Volkswagen’s soon-to-be-replaced Polo Vivo dominated the market with 2862 run out sales.
It was followed by the Toyota Hilux (2692), Ford Ranger (2269) and the Toyota Corolla/Quest/Auris trio at a combined 2196.
Watch this space for a more comprehensive sales chart, sorted by segment, next week.