picture: 123RF/WELCOMIA
picture: 123RF/WELCOMIA

New-vehicle sales fell 8.1% in January from a year earlier. However, German carmaker BMW’s decision to withhold details of monthly sales around the world makes it difficult to draw conclusions from the first month of sales in 2020.

BMW has decided that, in future, the group and its subsidiaries, including BMW SA, will publish sales figures every quarter, instead of monthly. As a result, figures published Monday by the department of trade and industry do not offer a clear picture of the state of the SA market.

Excluding BMW, the local market sold 39,475 cars and commercial vehicles in January. A year earlier, the number, including BMW, was 42,956. The car market in January was 5.1% weaker — 28,115 compared to 29,616. If one adds average BMW sales of about 1,200 in recent months, the car deficit would have been about 1.2% and the overall market, about 5%.

BMW’s absence also makes export comparisons difficult. Foreign shipments of SA-made vehicles fell 37.7% in January from a year earlier, from 18,250 to 11,373. BMW SA usually exports 5,500-7,000 each month. If January’s numbers were in that range, the overall export deficit from 2019 would have been very small.