In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of April, 2012 – released today by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) – the Association commented that, despite the high number and configuration of public holidays during the month, new car and commercial vehicle sales had registered relatively strong gains compared to the corresponding month last year.  Aggregate Industry sales had improved by 4 034 units or 10.5% to 42 617 vehicles from 38 583 units in April last year well above the growth rate in Industry total sales of 6.9% for the four 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 40 417 vehicles (excluding MBSA), 90.7 % or 36 671 units represented dealer sales, 4.1% to Industry corporate fleet sales, 2.8% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry and 2.4 % sales to Government.  From a seasonal perspective, sales to car rental companies were expected to improve from June, 2012 onwards as the car rental Industry started to re-fleet.

Aggregate Industry new car sales during April 2012 had performed reasonably well and at 29 517 units (including MBSA) reflected an improvement of 3 190 units or 12.1 % compared to the 26 327 new cars sold during April 2011.  Interestingly, the year on year growth momentum in April new car sales had improved rising to its best level in the past six months.  Year to date new car sales remained 9.1% ahead of the corresponding four months of 2011.

Including estimates for MBSA commercial vehicle sales by segment – sales of Industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 11 028 units during April, 2012 reflected an increase of 741 units or 7.2% compared to the 10 287 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 668 and 1 404 units, respectively, had recorded an increase of 74 units or 12.5%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and a rise of 29 units or 2.1%, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, compared to the corresponding month last year.  For the first quarter of 2012, commercial vehicle sales had underperformed the growth in the new car market.

Exports of South African produced motor vehicles, including MBSA export sales data, during April, 2012 at 17 656 vehicles had registered a decline of 2 172 units or 11.0 % compared to the 19 828 vehicles exported during April last year.  Industry export sales were expected to improve modestly 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.  However, the Industry’s overall export performance during 2012 would remain a function of the direction of the global economy.  Vehicle exports intoEuroperemained under pressure as a result of the recession and debt crisis in the Eurozone.  As a result, Industry vehicle export projections had been revised downwards and were now expected to reach about 270 000 vehicles down from 300 000 units originally projected for 2011.

 The outlook for 2012 in terms of total industry sales remained one of modest growth.  Factors that would continue to lend support to the domestic market included the ongoing improvement in the financial position of consumers, relatively 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.  As a result, domestic sales were expected to continue to reflect growth, but at a relatively subdued rate.  At this stage, domestic sales were expected to improve by between 8% and 10%.