One message rings loud and clear from new-vehicle sales figures: the South African market cannot sustain a motor industry. This is no sudden epiphany. Motor companies have known for years that their future lies in exports. But the extent to which it does has been brought into sharp relief by recent market shifts. Sales numbers released this week show that in September the industry sold 49,670 new vehicles in SA. Its overseas market was 36,781. September's figures were slightly skewed by exports hitting a monthly record. But if forecasters are correct, the 4:3 ratio of local sales to exports will narrow further. A decade ago, SA was exporting fewer that 175,000 vehicles annually. This year's prediction is 340,000, rising to more than 400,000 in 2020. Meanwhile, the domestic market is shrinking. It is only temporary (everyone hopes), but the rate of recovery is expected to be slower than export growth. September sales continued the gradual decline of the past few months. They were dow...

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