Lo­cal car sales grim, but ex­ports are look­ing up for SA

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

WHAT do the Fer­rari 488 GTB, BMW i3, Jaguar XE and Mahin­dra Ge­nio have in com­mon? These mod­els all sold seven units last month, ac­cord­ing the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers (Naamsa).

The as­so­ci­a­tion re­ports July’s ag­gre­gate new ve­hi­cle sales are 17% down on those of July last year. Still, the coun­try sold 44 883 ve­hi­cles lo­cally and ex­ported 29 042.

The ex­port fig­ure of 684 ve­hi­cles is a mar­ginal im­prove­ment of 2,4% com­pared to July last year. The car rental in­dus­try ac­counted for 18,5% of new cars sold dur­ing July.

Head of Stan­dard Bank Ve­hi­cle and As­set Fi­nance Ni­cholas Nkosi said even though the av­er­age price paid for a pas­sen­ger last month in­creased from R295 976 in July 2015 to R296 500, the bank is still see­ing a shift to­wards the pre-owned/used ve­hi­cles.

Nkosi said this trend is not likely to change in the short to medium term.

Sales of bakkies, minibuses and trucks — tra­di­tion­ally seen as a barom­e­ter of the econ­omy — have also fallen, with medium com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles show­ing a de­cline of 117 units (13,9%) and heavy trucks and buses a mod­est de­cline of 95 ve­hi­cles (5,7%) com­pared to the cor­re­spond­ing month last year. Lo­cally the Hilux out­sold the Ranger by 848 units this month, with 3 153 units sold dur­ing July. That means on av­er­age 126 Hilux bakkies were sold a day in July with its ex­tra week­end.

The Prospec­ton plant is cur­rently also mak­ing good on the R6,1 bil­lion in­vest­ment on a line to build the new Hilux and For­tuner, with 6 035 Hilux units ex­ported last month.

Naamsa com­mented that the rest of the year was likely to be grim, due to dou­ble-digit new ve­hi­cle price in­creases in re­sponse to ear­lier rand weak­ness, rel­a­tively high in­ter­est rates and frag­ile con­sumer and business con­fi­dence at a time of ris­ing re­trench­ments across a num­ber of sec­tors.

The cloud of bad news had two sil­ver lin­ings — yes­ter­day’s sig­nif­i­cant drop in the fuel price, and more ex­ports thanks to that weak rand.

Naamsa pre­dicts the car fac­to­ries should there­fore hold steady, with 2016 ex­port sales num­bers ex­pected to ex­pand to around 351 000 units from the 333 802 ex­port sales in 2015.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

The Toy­ota Hilux is still SA’s best sell­ing ve­hi­cle, with 3 153 units sold lo­cally, com­pared to the next best seller, the VW Polo Vivo, at 2 452 units.

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