This year was always going to be a challenging one for the SA motor industry — and it has just become even more complex. Horrible new-car sales figures released on March 1 suggest the market performance this year could be considerably worse than the negative figures already bandied about by analysts. That’s bad news for an industry also facing the prospect of strikes, tariff penalties in a valuable export market, and the need to redesign its business model for a new production incentive regime. Political uncertainty ahead of the elections in May was bound to affect buying activity — particularly when mixed with economic stagnation, soaring fuel prices and Eskom’s inability to keep the lights on. Everyone hopes optimism (and electricity) will return after the elections, but that’s precisely when the industry will face its next challenge. The current three-yearly agreement with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) expires mid-2019 and there are already rumblings of potenti...

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