Motor industry marketers were entitled to give a half-hearted cheer on Monday when sales figures showed a slowing in the rate of decline in new-car sales. In January and February, the market plunged 10.8% and 13.3% respectively from the corresponding months in 2018. It fell again in March but at 5.6% — from 32,153 to 30,348 — the drop was almost respectable. Still, the numbers for the first quarter of 2019 remained depressing. Compared to 2018, the new-car market was down 8.7%, from 95,844 to 87,531. There was better news for producers of commercial vehicles. Bakkie sales rose 1.9% in March, medium trucks 6.2% and heavy trucks 5.3%. The end result was a 3.1% drop in total new-vehicle sales, from 49,230 to 47,718. For the quarter, the aggregate market was down 4.8%, from 141,269 to 134,479. It’s unlikely to improve soon. According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), prospects for domestic-new vehicle sales, particularly the new-car market, will con...

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