• Comparative analysis difficult in the absence of all large vehicle brands
  • December and January figures point to unexpected growth at the start of 2012
  • Commercial vehicle sales lower, but expected to improve
  • Toyota South Africa remains the market leader, while it also retains the title as the largest exporter of proudly South African built vehicles in the country.
January 2011 January 2012 % change
(2011 vs. 2012)
% change(year to date)
Total market 45 107 45 944 +1.9% +1.9%
Passenger market 32 963 33 550 +1.8% +1.8%
Exports 10 185 10 445 +2.6% +2.6%
  • Aggregated vehicle sales, including total sales by Mercedes-Benz SA, are 48 251, representing a growth of 7% for January 2012 compared with the same month last year.

Toyota LogoToyota SA Motors started the new year on a high note when it recorded the sale of 8 170 new models in January 2012. The positive news was further supported by very strong export numbers, with 4 643 units being shipped from the company’s Prospecton plant in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

“The year has started very positively,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors. “One should, as always, be wary of considering January in isolation as many manufacturers end their calendar year early and transfer sales to the first month of the new year. One should also consider the practice of many new vehicle owners to delay the registration of their December purchase in order to first register in the new model year.”

“One should also consider another factor which will make future comparisons difficult,” says Dr Van Zyl. “In the absence of detailed sales figures from a large manufacturer like Mercedes-Benz South Africa any comparisons with the previous year will be extremely difficult.”

Despite these challenges it appears as though the market has started on a positive footing. Sales in January reached a total of 45 944, which is 1.9% better than the same month last year. Considering the non-reporters this figure is in reality even higher.

Toyota SA Motors has publically commented that it expects growth to slow in 2012, with the distant possibility of a market that stabilises at 570 000 units. “This remains to be seen and we expect a clearer picture to emerge once we have received the sales figures for the full first quarter of the year,” says Dr Van Zyl.

An initial study of January 2012 sales figures point to a marked increase in sales to vehicle rental companies. This trend also appeared in the first month of 2011, but remains unseasonal for an industry that normally purchase vehicles in bulk before the Christmas holiday period.

“A key indicator will remain vehicle purchases through the general dealer network, as this is a very good indicator of the health of the industry and economy in general. In January 79% of vehicles were sold through the dealer network, which is somewhat below the average for 2011,” says Dr Van Zyl.

The medium, heavy and extra heavy commercial vehicle markets all recorded a decline in January. This is partly due to the closure of the body building industry over the Christmas period and in the first part of January and off course the exclusion of Mercedes-Benz, which is a significant player in the commercial vehicle industry.

“From a first view analysis of the January market it appears as though the market might surprise the market analysts, but we will wait for a full quarter of sales figures to gain a clearer picture,” says Dr Van Zyl.