Vehicle sales break all records

5 April 2006

A strong economy, high consumer and business confidence, low interest rates and increased affordability boosted new vehicle sales in South Africa to an all-time record high in March 2006, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa).

The association announced on Tuesday that a total of 56 341 new vehicles were sold in the month, up 29.1% on the 43 635 units sold in March 2005.

New car sales easily surpassed all previous monthly sales records, up 30.9% on the same period last year and 15.8% higher than in February 2006. Sales for the first quarter of this year exceeded those in the 2005 first quarter by an impressive 21.3%.

As a result of the record sales, Naamsa said in a statement that it has revised its growth projections for 2006 from 10% to between 15% and 20%.

“As things stand now, 2006 will be the best year ever for the South African motor industry,” McCarthy Motor Holdings chairperson Brand Pretorius told Business Day.

He said contributing factors in the record growth were tax concessions in Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s latest Budget and the introduction of new models into the market.

March sales of new commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses of 3 163 units were 24.5% higher than they were in March last year.

Naamsa said there were substantial increases in sales of medium and heavy trucks. Medium commercial vehicles sales rose 38.3%, while those of heavy commercial vehicles rose 29.5%.

“Positive fixed investment trends and strong expansionary fiscal spending on infrastructural projects should continue to underpin demand in this segment,” Naamsa said.

Vehicle exports for the first two months of 2006 increased by 7 869 units, or 54.4%, on the same period last year.

“A positive macro environment, strong business and consumer confidence, relatively low interest rates, substantially enhanced new vehicle affordability and the increasingly frequent introduction of technologically advanced, fuel efficient new and/or face-lift models would continue to support the market in the short to medium term,” Naamsa said.

“It was clear that 2006 would represent another record year for the South African automotive industry.” reporter