Driven - - Road Safety - Re­port by BERNARD HELLBERG SR

De­spite the bleak win­ter, and a gen­eral mood of neg­a­tiv­ity in the coun­try, new ve­hi­cle sales in July in­creased by a com­mend­able 4.1% for a to­tal of 46,719 units – com­pared to the July 2016 to­tal of 44,870 units sold.

EX­PORT SALES FARED EVEN BET­TER with a mas­sive im­prove­ment of 22.2% (35,486 units) com­pared to 29,030 units in July last year.

The pas­sen­ger car cat­e­gory im­proved by 1,791 sales up to 30,826, while light com­mer­cials, on 13,774, showed a more mod­est im­prove­ment of 231 units.

In­di­vid­ual achiev­ers in the Top 10 cat­e­gory in­cluded some new faces such as Hyundai and Kia, with the top spot, yet again, go­ing to Toy­ota SA.

Toy­ota sold 10,137 ve­hi­cles lo­cally with Hilux (3,100) the over­all best seller and com­fort­ably out­per­form­ing the Ford Ranger, which sold 2,300 units – more than a thou­sand fewer than in June this year. The Corolla/Auris/Quest also did well for the com­pany – record­ing 1,480 sales and plac­ing third be­hind Volk­swa­gen’s Polo Vivo (2,675) and Polo. Other Toy­ota stars in­cluded For­tuner (1,033), and Etios on 973 units sold.

Slot­ting com­fort­ably into its usual sec­ond place, Volk­swa­gen Group man­aged 7,386 sales sup­ported, in ad­di­tion to Polo Vivo, by the Audi di­vi­sion’s ex­cel­lent 1,002 sales. The Polo’s 1,623 units gave it the num­ber two spot among pas­sen­ger cars. Keep an eye on the bril­liant Tiguan, which should be do­ing much bet­ter than its 371 recorded sales. The Golf 7, on the other hand, con­tin­ues to per­form, in many ways, with a sales to­tal of 483.

Third place in the Top 10 cat­e­gory con­tin­ues to be­long to Ford which, de­spite the Ranger giv­ing way to Hilux, sold 190 ve­hi­cles more than in June, for a to­tal of 5,561. Star­ring for Ford were Fi­esta (998), EcoS­port (851), and Ever­est on 359 sales. Keep an eye on Kuga (261), which is due for a re­launch soon and is busy shak­ing off its un­for­tu­nate past. The de­mand for the iconic Mus­tang con­tin­ues un­abated with 62 find­ing new homes.

Grad­u­ally mov­ing up the ranks from its cus­tom­ary sixth place, Nis­san (4,917) im­proved its re­sults by more than 800 units – thanks to good show­ings by Dat­sun GO (647), and Nis­san X-Trail on 224 units sold. The com­pany also ex­pe­ri­enced a surge in light com­mer­cial sales with the NP200 (1,367), and NP300 (1,251) sell­ing well, while the much-an­tic­i­pated Navara (122) has failed to ex­cite.

Now dis­clos­ing de­tailed sales for the first time, Hyundai (3,035) grabs fifth place – helped along by Grand i10 (565), Creta (514), and Tuc­son on 435 – out­selling VW’s Tiguan, but yield­ing to the Toy­ota RAV on 641.

Sixth place, rather nos­tal­gi­cally, goes to Isuzu Trucks/Opel with a to­tal of 2,745 sales – mainly courtesy of Isuzu KB (1,209) and Chev Util­ity on 780 units sold. Opel­badged ve­hi­cles recorded 226 sales with Corsa their top seller on 108.

There was a time when Re­nault scraped into the Top 10 rank­ings with slightly more than a thou­sand sales. Not only has the French car­maker kicked Mercedes-Benz off its pedestal with an im­pres­sive to­tal of 2,231 ve­hi­cles sold, but the brand also sold some 600 units more than in June 2017.

Re­nault’s stars were Clio IV (362), Kwid (799), and San­dero II (469). Cap­tur im­pressed with 228 units sold.

Mercedes-Benz, which does not dis­close spe­cific model sales, takes the num­ber eight spot with a mod­est to­tal of 1,805, while BMW (1,582) re­mains in ninth over­all – frac­tion­ally ahead of new­comer Kia (1,512) which makes the Top Ten at the first at­tempt – and kick­ing Mazda off the pedestal. Two mod­els stood out for Kia – the at­trac­tive Rio (635) and the ever-pop­u­lar Pi­canto on 659 sales.

There were some ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ments in the ranks of those man­u­fac­tur­ers/ im­porters falling out­side the Top 10 listings.

Porsche, for in­stance, con­tin­ues to shine with to­tal sales of 116 units, and with two mod­els – the 911 (36) and Cayenne (49) stand­ing out. In this über-lux­ury di­vi­sion, Fer­rari sold eight cars, Maserati did 16, while five Bent­leys found new homes.

Jaguar/Land Rover recorded 401 to­tal sales of which the Jaguar name­plate rep­re­sented 98 units – still bet­ter than the 61 to­tal recorded by Toy­ota’s Lexus di­vi­sion.

Suzuki (744) con­tin­ues to im­press, hav­ing over­taken Honda (463) – a rather sad state of af­fairs given that Honda, in the past – had reg­u­larly man­aged to sell a thou­sand units each month.

s widely ex­pected that the over­all mar­ket for 2017 will turn out to be fairly flat at lev­els sim­i­lar to those recorded in 2016, while ve­hi­cle ex­ports should con­tinue to ben­e­fit from global eco­nomic growth cur­rently at 3.5%.

Above: With the en­try of pre­vi­ous non-re­port­ing im­porters, Kia and Hyundai, the na­tional sales race has been blown wide open. Seen here, the top-sell­ing new Kia Pi­canto.

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