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New-vehicle sales plunged to their lowest monthly level in more than seven years in April on a combination of economic uncertainty and a crippling public holiday timetable that slashed the number of selling days. If the scale of the fall was surprising, the decline itself was not. SA’s credit downgrades to junk status and unpopular cabinet appointments by President Jacob Zuma caused analysts to reverse their predictions that the market was ready to recover after three years of decline. WesBank analyst Rudolf Mahoney said April’s sales were the lowest monthly sales since December 2009. Consumers were already bracing themselves for more bad news. Holiday-related production cutbacks contributed to a 25.5% drop in exports. A prime reason, however, was Volkswagen SA starting the gradual production rundown of its Polo, which would be replaced by a new range at the end of 2017. The company exported 3,817 cars in April, barely half the 7,594 shipped in March. Toyota SA’s export numbers were...

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