JANUARY HINTS AT STRONG SALES MOMENTUM
- Vehicle sales outperform expectation
- Toyota remains top vehicle exporter
- Hilux sales drive LCV market resurgence
|Market segment||2012||2013||% change|
|Passenger vehicles||35 390||39 738||+12.3%|
|Light commercial vehicles||11 120||13 346||+20%|
|Medium commercial vehicles||633||700||+10.6%|
|Heavy commercial vehicles||253||329||+30%|
|Extra Heavy commercial vehicles||730||851||+16.6%|
|Vehicle exports||11 605||17 399||+49.9%|
The South African new vehicle market surprised even the most optimistic analysts after the National Association of Automotive Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) recorded 55 007 new vehicle sales in January. This is 14.1% better than the same month in 2012 and signals a strong start to the new year.
Passenger vehicle sales grew by 12.3% over January 2012, but importantly also by 19.4% over December, while light commercial vehicles grew by 20% over the same month last year.
“The market has definitely hit the accelerator early this year, but I would hesitate to make bullish predictions before adding February sales into the analysis,” says Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President: Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors.
Mr Hamman points to a well-used practice of carrying over vehicle registrations from the holiday season to the new year, making January sales look better than expected. This was compounded in January by unnaturally high sales to rental companies. No less than 8 821 units (+52.6% growth over January 2012) were sold to vehicle rental companies a month after their normal peak season.
Also, several vehicle manufacturers struggled to fill production and sales orders in December 2011 and January 2012 following floods in Thailand, a major supply base to local manufacturers. This past drop in sales volumes would make any comparison with the same months in 2012 / 2013 look unnaturally high.
“Despite these influences January 2013 performed very strong. All major market segments, including passenger vehicles, exports (up by 49.9%), commercial vehicle sales and sales by dealers moved into positive territory in January,” says Mr Hamman.
Other metrics that showed positive signs include commercial vehicle orders and finance applications to Toyota Financial Services.
Hino South Africa outsold its targets and grew its January sales by 36.8% over the same month last year.
“Hino’s strong heavy and extra heavy commercial vehicle sales hint at continued capital investment and it sets the scene for a positive year, albeit possibly at a slower rate than last year,” says Mr Hamman.
Moving from corporate indicators to private buyers Toyota Financial Services (TFS) noted 31.6% more vehicle finance applications in January than the same month last year and nearly 24% higher number of applications over December 2012. This too hints at strong underlying demand for new vehicles.
“It is industry practice to combine and average December, January and February sales to get an indication of the sales trends for the year with all the seasonal anomalies removed. In the absence of February sales it does look as though the market holds promise,” says Mr Hamman.
“This year will see the 2012 marketing offensive and trading support continue, while vehicle buyers can expect more exciting new vehicles to arrive on local soil in the run up to the Johannesburg International Motor Show in October.
“New models and a relatively low interest rate environment will boost the market, although the purchasing consideration will remain in favour of smaller vehicles and vehicles with smaller engines as the buying down trend in the passenger vehicle market continues.
“With this in mind we expect the market to continue growing in 2013, although growth will be muted in comparison to 2012.”