Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Vehicle sales continued to gain some ground in July with the overall market increasing by 2.6% compared to July 2017. This is according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), which also reported an increase in passenger-vehicle sales of 4.3%.

Both increases are marginally less than the increases in the overall and passenger segments in June but show a market that remains resilient in spite of economic pressure.

"It appeared that the new-car market had been supported by improved business and consumer confidence," says Naamsa. "However, the decline in the leading indicator of the Reserve Bank over the past two months suggests a challenging economic environment going forward."

The main driver of overall sales was the retail sector, with 80.8% of all sales being through dealerships. Sales to the vehicle rental industry amounted to 14%; fleet sales were 3.1%; and the government accounted for 2.1% of the 47,881 vehicles sold in July.

Increases were marginally less than those in June but overall vehicle sales for the year to end-July remain slightly lower, with a decline of 0.3%. Passenger-vehicle sales were also only slightly higher over the year-to-date period in 2017, showing a 0.4% increase for 2018.

Toyota again achieved the biggest sales numbers at 12,840 vehicles across all segments, followed by Volkswagen with 7,691. After Nissan overtook Ford Motor in June, Ford took third place back in July with 4,856 compared to Nissan’s 4,530. However, the battle of the bakkies between Ford and Toyota looks to be over for now, with the Hilux outselling its big rival, the Ranger by 874 units. This could be explained by Ford’s plans to introduce a new Ranger in 2019. Ford also boosted its overall figures with the launch of its new EcoSport with 579 sold in July.

Export numbers continued to disappoint in July, with overall exports across the industry down 19.2%. The situation was worse for passenger cars with exports declining 31.8%. Overall, the South African vehicle export industry is down 4.8% so far in 2018.

Naamsa says it may have to revise its export projections for 2018 in light of the downward trend. The organisation also warns that global trade disputes, including US tariff concerns, could have a negative effect on the global movement of new vehicles, including the export of vehicles manufactured in SA.