The global economic crisis is making itself felt on the South African new vehicle market in more ways than one. New vehicle sales during November as recorded by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), showed an 11% slow-down in sales over October this year, representing a 30% decline over the same period last year.

“Not only are consumers turning off their new vehicle purchase decisions due to the credit crunch, they are now also being affected by the sentiment attached to major capital purchases,” says Jacques Brent, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “We are entering a depressed market where the empirical limitations of new vehicle ownership are now compounded by the emotional restrictions of sentiment as to what will happen next.”

South African new passenger car sales were 13% down during November compared to the previous month, accounting for 20,128 sales of the 36,638 industry total. That represents a 31, 4% decline over the same month last year. Light Commercial Vehicle sales were less affected, but still recorded a 7, 5% downturn compared to October and 23,9% over November 2007.

Status quo at the top of the sales charts remained unchanged from last month; Toyota, VW, GM and Ford all losing similar share, indicative of the general downturn in new vehicle sales. But while domestic sales continued under fire, South Africa’s export market is growing. November showed an 11% growth over October and 46% on November 2007.

“The financial markets are still under great pressure, but hopefully with the inflation rate turning and some relative stability in the exchange rate we could see some activity returning to the markets,” says Brent. “The expected cut in the fuel price and possible interest rate cuts during December will hopefully give South Africans more positivity for the holiday season, and potentially more buying power in the new year.”

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa exports reflected the market’s strong performance in that area, increasing 48,1% over the same period last year and 32% over October 2008. Total vehicle exports rose 11% over October 2008 and 46,3% over November 2007. Domestic sales for the company comprised 1,501 new passenger cars and 1,850 light commercial vehicles.

Ford sales were aided by the arrival of the new Fiesta, volumes of which are expected to increase further once supply is at full capacity. Fiesta accounted for a substantial increase in sales to 412 units, the Ranger once again the best performing Ford model with 851 units sold, while the 493 Mazda BT50s registered during November also represented a big increase (21%) in sales.

“The South African new vehicle market moved through the 500,000 unit year to date mark this month, a far cry from the 630,000 new vehicles sold last year. It has been an unprecedentedly challenging year, a situation unlikely to turn around in the short term. But the market isn’t all about bad news: after all Mazda sales are up nearly 26% amidst the gloom, giving hope that in adversity remains opportunity,” concluded Brent.