Toyota South Africa Motors handed 9 041 keys to new Toyota customers in the leisurely December month to bring its final 2012 sales tally to 121 276 or nearly one in every five vehicles sold on local soil in the past year.

Toyota Car Sales

According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) Toyota is the 2012 market leader, a position which it has retained for the past 33 years. Toyota also reaffirmed its position as the largest vehicle exporter by exporting 5 315 vehicles (26.9% of total vehicle exports) in the short December month.

“Our sales success in 2012, amidst local and international turmoil, previously unseen levels of competition and a slower economic growth is a monument to the hard work of our more than 8 500 staff, strong dealer network and network of service providers and component manufacturers,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota SA Motors and a Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Naamsa reported today that 46 016 new vehicles were sold in December, which is slightly better (1.8%) than the corresponding month in 2011, but it does lift total 2012 sales to 623 914 for the year. This is an improvement of 9.2% over 2011 and it means that South Africa has seen three full years of consistent growth after sales declined strongly in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

“Last year surprised even some optimists as new vehicle sales broke away and outperformed its underlying economic indicators. Despite somewhat languid economic growth and international socio-economic uncertainty the market continued to steam ahead.

“A certain level of growth was expected as people returned to dealerships to replace vehicles bought in the 2006 boom, but it was lifted higher by record retail-level competition amongst dealers and higher-level competition amongst manufacturers,” says Dr Van Zyl.

In emphasis of his views Naamsa recently indicated that vehicle buyers now have a choice of over 2 100 models from more than 60 vehicle brands, a phenomenon almost unique to South Africa. Naamsa sales figures also indicate that passenger car sales for 2012 were the highest since the vehicle sales peak in 2006.

The local demand for Toyota favourites like the Etios (1 721 units), Corolla (581 units) and Fortuner (979 units) remained strong, but it was the Hilux (2 709 units) that was again recorded as South Africa’s most popular vehicle.

Toyota’s world class Prospecton plant in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, also kept the Durban harbour busy as it shipped 5 315 right- and left hand drive Corolla, Fortuner and Hilux models to nearly 60 destinations across the world. Total vehicle exports grew by 3.5% to 269 461 vehicles in 2012, but is expected to increase significantly in 2013 as some manufacturers ramp up production of new models.

“Vehicle production is expected to increase in 2013 as manufacturers increase production up to take advantage of the Automotive Production and Development Programme,” says Dr Van Zyl.

The APDP was enacted on 1 January 2013 with the ultimate goal of growing local vehicle production capacity, including component manufacturing, to a level of 1.2 million vehicles annually by 2020.

“We expect that vehicle manufacturers will take some time to adapt to the new regulations, but trust that this will not affect vehicle sales or manufacturing plans,” says Dr van Zyl.

“In the coming year we expect that new model introductions, in anticipation of the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show, and continued competition will drive further growth. The rate of growth will however slow down as it is compared to a strong 2012, leading to an expected growth rate that will be in the low single digits for 2013,” says Dr van Zyl.