Colin-on-Cars – Good recovery for new vehicle sales

The turnaround in new vehicle sales appears to have begun with March ending on 44 217 units, an increase of 10 671 compared to the same month last year and with Toyota topping 10 000 for the period.

Aggregate domestic sales in March 2021, at 44 217 units, reflected a substantial increase of 10 671 units, or 31,8%, from the 33 546 vehicles sold in March last year. Export sales also recorded a huge increase in March 2021 and at 40 026 units reflected a gain of 11 137 units, or 38,6%, compared to the 28 889 vehicles exported in March 2020.

Naamsa CEO, Mike Mabasa says: “The turnaround in the new vehicle market has commenced during March 2021 compared to the corresponding month last year when the country lockdown restrictions resulted in the temporary suspension of vehicle production and sales towards the end of March 2020”.

“The industry is expected to start recapturing lost demand on its recovery path in 2021, considering the close correlation between new vehicle sales and the country’s anticipated annual GDP growth rate in excess of 3%.

“However, structural constraints, which exist in the economy, coupled with the growing debt of the country and the ongoing electricity capacity limitations that business may be faced with in the future do not bode well for a quick recovery. New vehicle sales in 2021 may also be hampered by stock shortages of some models in the coming months, caused by COVID-19 induced manufacturing supply chain disruptions, such as the current global shortage of semi-conductors, or computer chips, an important part of modern vehicles.”

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 44 217 vehicles, an estimated 37 572 units, or 85,0%, represented dealer sales, an estimated 8,7% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,7% sales to government, and 2,6% to industry corporate fleets. The March 2021 new passenger car market at 27 330 units had registered an increase of 5 187 cars, or an improvement of 23,4%, compared to the 22 143 new cars sold in March 2020. The car rental industry accounted for a solid 12,3% of car sales in March 2021.

“Stronger retail sales in the South African vehicle market in March are most encouraging, and this year may be better than expected for the local motor industry,” says Mark Dommisse, Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA).

“It is evident the delayed replacement cycle is starting to catch up, helped by interest rates remaining low. The used vehicle market is also strong, which is good for the overall health of all sectors of the industry. Two months after a semi-hard lockdown, consumer confidence is improving. Potential buyers were wary in January, cautious in February and, now that the second wave has passed, and the country’s economy is stabilising, people are looking to buy new vehicles again.

“The rate at which the commercial vehicle market is growing is also good news, as this signifies improvements in the general economy with the promise of an increasing number of infrastructure projects. This project pipeline will certainly boost the all-important commercial sector of the market.”

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 14 375 units during March 2021 had recorded an improvement of 4 941 units, or a massive increase of 52,4%, from the 9 434 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year. Sales for medium and heavy truck segments of the industry also reflected a positive performance and at 705 units and 1 807 units, respectively, showed an increase of 73 units, or 11,6% in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses a substantial gain of 470 vehicles, or an improvement of 35,2%, compared to the corresponding month last year.

The March 2021 exports sales number at 40 026 units reflected a massive increase of 11 137 vehicles or 38,6% compared to the 28 889 vehicles exported in March 2020. For the first three months of 2021 vehicle exports were now 13 019 units, or 16,8% above the corresponding period last year.

Vehicle export numbers gained significant upward momentum during the month and will be supported by the rebound in global economic growth prospects for 2021. In terms of a timeframe for a full recovery to pre- COVID-19 vehicle record export levels, much will depend on the ongoing path of the pandemic and how it is managed by the South African automotive industry’s main trading partners.

Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) registered a total of 10 797 vehicles sold in the month of March 2021. Last month’s aggregate total is 2 082 units up from the 8 715 vehicles sold by TSAM in the corresponding month last year. The TSAM total also accounted for a 24,2% market share out of industry total of 44 217 units sold. The split for Toyota was as follows: 5 783 were Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV), 4 726 were passenger vehicles, 155 were MCV, with HCV and Extra Heavy Commercial Vehicles segments recording 98 and 35 units respectively.

TSAM’s truck division Hino sold a total of 262 vehicles. The Hino 300-Series had a strong sales month with 129 units (19% share of the MCV segment) while the Hino 500-Series recorded 98 new truck sales (19% share of the HCV segment). Toyota’s niche luxury brand Lexus had an admirable run with NX (14), ES (11) LX (9) and UX (9).

“Reassuringly, March sales show a 18.4% increase over February this year, a number more indicative of the real strength of the market,” says Lebogang Gaoaketse, Head of Marketing and Communication at WesBank Vehicle and Asset Finance. “With many of the brands indicating difficulty securing sufficient stock to meet demand, the new vehicle market seems to be well on its way to recovery.”

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