In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of May, 2012 – released today by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) – the Association commented that domestic new car and commercial vehicle sales for the month had registered strong gains compared to the corresponding month last year.  Aggregate Industry sales had improved by 8 604 units or 20.7% to 50 229 vehicles from 41 625 units in May last year, substantially above the growth rate in Industry total sales of 9.4% for the first five months of the year.

For the time being, Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) would provide a single total sales number for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and export sales.  Based on historical sales trends and forecasting techniques, Messrs RGT SMART (NAAMSA’s data processing service provider) had compiled estimates for MBSA commercial vehicle sales by segment.

Overall, out of the total detailed (disaggregated) reported Industry sales of 47 717 vehicles (excluding MBSA), 90.3 % or 43 089 units represented dealer sales, 4.3% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.8% to Industry corporate fleet sales and 1.6 % sales to Government.  From a seasonal perspective, sales to car rental companies should improve from June, 2012 onwards as the car rental Industry started to re-fleet.

Assisted by new model introductions and an improvement in stock availability, aggregate Industry new car sales during May 2012 had been surprisingly strong and at 34 820 units (including MBSA) reflected an improvement of 5 999 units or 20.8 % compared to the 28 821 new cars sold during May 2011.  The year on year growth momentum in May new car sales had improved rising to its best level in the past eight months with year to date new car sales 11.3% ahead of the corresponding five months of 2011.  New car sales during May, 2012 recorded the highest daily selling rate since June, 2007.

Including estimates for MBSA commercial vehicle sales by segment – sales of Industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 12 907 units during May, 2012 reflected an increase of 2 287 units or 21.5% compared to the 10 620 light commercial vehicle sales during the corresponding month last year.

Sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry at an estimated 881 and 1 621 units, respectively, had recorded an increase of 135 units or 18.1%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and a rise of 183 units or 12.7%, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, compared to the corresponding month last year.  Most manufacturers in these sectors reported strong order books going forward.

Exports of South African produced motor vehicles, including MBSA export sales data, during May, 2012 at 22 620 vehicles had registered an improvement of 560 units or 2.5 % compared to the 22 060 vehicles exported in May last year. Industry export sales were expected to improve over the balance of the year as the Ford global compact vehicle export programme and the BMW new 3 series export volumes were ramped up.  The Industry’s export performance would remain a function of the direction of the global economy.  Vehicle exports intoEuropewere likely to continue under pressure as a result of the recession and debt crisis in the Eurozone.

Factors that would continue to lend support to the domestic market included the ongoing improvement in the financial position of consumers, historically low interest rates, continuing improvement in vehicle affordability in real terms, the highly competitive trading environment and new model introductions.  Continued growth in consumer expenditure and public sector infrastructural investment would also support domestic new vehicle sales.  The recent sharp depreciation in the exchange rate was also likely to result in pre-emptive buying over the next few months as consumers sought to purchase vehicles to avoid the possible impact of the lower exchange rate on new vehicle prices.