Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

A promising increase in new-vehicle sales in April is likely to become even more promising in mid-May when the newly integrated Fiat Chrysler Automobiles SA belatedly reports its sales performance.

A 3.6% rise in industry sales last month, compared to April 2017, could rise by another percentage point once the missing numbers are in. The Fiat and Chrysler brands, though part of the same global group for some years, officially merged into a new local company on May 1. The integration of data and systems has delayed compilation of comprehensive sales details.

Based on past performance, says the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), the new company probably shifted about 350 vehicles in April.

Without them, the industry sold 36,346 vehicles, up from 35,086 in April 2017. Car sales rose 6.4%, from 22,490 to 23,928. Light commercial vehicles, mainly bakkies and minibuses, dipped by 1.2%, from 10,707 to 10,580. Medium commercial vehicles fell 12.1%, but sales of heavy trucks and buses improved by 1.3%.

Following April’s overall improvement, new-vehicle sales for the first four months of 2018 narrowed the gap from 2017; in the first four months of this year, the industry sold 177,617 vehicles, a 2.6% deficit on 2017’s 182,371.

Exports of South African vehicles improved by 0.8% in April from a year earlier, from 24,229 to 24,422. Shipments for the first four months of 2018 increased 1.4%, from 94,893 to 96,239.