Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

New-vehicle sales enjoyed a year-end surge in December, but not enough to undo earlier damage caused by months of decline.

Sales of all new vehicles, from cars to extra-heavy trucks, totalled 41,698 in December — 4.2% better than December 2018. Cars performed particularly well. December was 9.1% better than the 26,547 of a year earlier.

For 2019 as a whole, however, the overall market was 2.8% weaker — down to 536,626. Car sales fell 2.7% to 355,384. Medium- and extra-heavy commercial vehicles both performed better in 2019 than 2018 but heavy trucks and light commercials, mainly bakkies, were both down.

Exports suffered a disappointing end to the year.

Following several months of record shipments, December’s 13,298 was a full 57.7% weaker than the 31,422 of the corresponding month of 2018.

So while the full-year total of 386,863 smashed the previous annual record of 351,139 set in 2018, it fell short of the 400,000 confidently predicted only a few weeks ago.