READY TO GO: Mercedes-Benz vehicles at East London Harbour awaiting export. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH
READY TO GO: Mercedes-Benz vehicles at East London Harbour awaiting export. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH

Motor industry analysts are sticking to their guns that 2018 new vehicle sales will exceed those of 2017, despite sales lagging at the halfway point.

June new vehicle sales, released by the Department of Trade and Industry on Monday, improved by 3% from 45,332 to 46,678 compared to the corresponding 2017 month.

Though car sales grew 4.4%, from 28,625 to 29,886, it was not enough to drag first-half 2018 numbers out of the red.

Ghana Msibi, sales and marketing head at WesBank, said he was still confident the market would accelerate in the second half of the year.

June’s “encouraging” sales showed the market was moving in the right direction.

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) also expected full-year growth but with the rider of “a challenging economic environment going forward”.

NAAMSA ... WARNED THAT SA MAY BE HURT BY THE WAVE OF PROTECTIONISM IN THE US.

Naamsa and Msibi both said new vehicle sales traditionally increased in the second half of the year, even though that impetus may have been slightly undermined by March’s surge in pre-emptive buying to beat the April 1 increase in VAT.

Sales of commercial vehicles in June were generally downbeat, with only heavy trucks showing improvement.

Even those were in arrears at the 2018 halfway point, in common with other categories.

Vehicle exports disappointed in June, falling 15.2% compared to a year earlier, from 31,595 to 26,790. For the first six months, they were down 0.8%, from 155,237 to 152,841.

Naamsa continues to predict full-year exports will improve on 2017 but warned that SA may be hurt by the wave of protectionism in the US.

That market is no longer as important to SA as it once was but it remains the local motor industry’s third largest destination after the UK and Japan.

Naamsa says President Donald Trump’s protectionist bombast has “increased the risk of a global trade war and this could affect international trade flows, including vehicle exports”.

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