In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of January, 2013 – released today by independent statistical service provider, Messrs RGT SMART – the Association commented that following the positive sales performance throughout 2012, the strong underlying momentum had continued into 2013 with January new vehicle sales recording substantial gains on the corresponding month last year.
In the event, January, 2013 aggregate new vehicle sales at 55 007 units registered an improvement of 6 805 vehicles or a gain of 14.1% compared to the 48 202 vehicles sold in January last year. All major segments recorded double digit year on year growth – new cars 12.3%, light commercials 20.0%, medium commercials 10.6%, heavy trucks 30.0% and extra heavy trucks 16.6%. Moreover, the January, 2013 export sales at 17 399 vehicles reflected an improvement of 5 794 vehicles or a gain of 49.9% compared to the 11 605 vehicles exported in January last year.
Discussions are ongoing between Mercedes-Benz SA (Pty) Ltd, Daimler AG, the Department of Trade and Industry and other Stakeholders to facilitate the early resumption of full Industry sales reporting. In the meantime, Mercedes-BenzSouth Africa would continue to provide a single total sales number for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and export sales and Messrs RGT SMART would continue to compile estimates for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle sales by segment.
Overall, out of the total detailed (disaggregated) reported Industry sales of 52 775 vehicles (excluding Mercedes-Benz South Africa), 76.9% or 40 568 units represented dealer sales, 16.7% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.2% to government and 3.2% to Industry corporate fleets.
The new car market continued to demonstrate strength in January, 2013 and at 39 738 units, including Mercedes-Benz sales, reflected an improvement of 4 348 units or 12.3% compared to the 35 390 new cars sold in January last year. Continued strong demand by the car rental Industry, which accounted for 22.5% of total new car sales during the month, had supported the market during January, 2013. Recent exchange rate weakness would have contributed to pre-emptive buying by consumers to avoid higher expected new vehicle prices.
Including estimates for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle sales by segment – sales of Industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 13 346 units during January, 2013 reflected a massive increase of 2 226 units or 20.0% compared to the 11 120 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.
Sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry at an estimated 700 and 1 223 units, respectively, had recorded an increase of 67 units or 10.6%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and a gain of 164 units or 15.5%, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, compared to the corresponding month last year.
Industry new vehicle exports during January, 2013 at 17 399 vehicles had registered substantial gains rising by 5 794 units or 49.9% compared to the 11 605 vehicles exported in January last year. The momentum of vehicle exports was expected to improve further over the balance of the year and particularly exports of light commercial vehicles should increase substantially during 2013.
Despite indications of slower growth in the economy, the performance of the South African automotive sector continued to surprise on the upside. The overall near term outlook for the automotive sector remained reasonably positive. Factors that would continue to support domestic sales included the low interest rate environment, replacement demand, the highly competitive trading environment with attractive incentives, low debt servicing costs, high technology new model introductions and strong demand by car rental companies. On the negative side, rising inflationary pressures would limit growth in real disposable income which together with generally anticipated rising new vehicle prices as a result of the weaker exchange rate – could result in some moderation in the rate of growth in sales over the balance of the year. Industry production, largely as a result of higher new vehicle exports, should however register encouraging growth in 2013.