SA car sales decline in 2019 despite a good December

Car sales in SA in 2019 continued the downward trajectory experienced since 2013, with the exception of 2017, when there was a marginal year-on-year increase.
Car sales in SA in 2019 continued the downward trajectory experienced since 2013, with the exception of 2017, when there was a marginal year-on-year increase.
Image: Reuters

New-vehicle sales in SA ended on a positive note in December 2019, registering gains over the same month in 2018 — but overall sales for the year ended a disappointing 2.8% down.

Statistics released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) revealed that 41,698 cars, bakkies and trucks were sold last month — a 4.2% rise over the corresponding month in 2018.

The results were a mixed bag, however.

Passenger cars were up 9.1% and medium and heavy commercial vehicles increased by 19% and 18.8% respectively, but light commercial vehicles dropped 6.7% and extra-heavy commercials declined 19.1% year-on-year in December.

Sales figures for the whole of 2019 continued the downward trajectory experienced since 2013, with the exception of 2017 where there was a marginal year-on-year increase. New-vehicle sales declined by 15,601 units (2.8%) from 552,227 units in 2018 to 536,626 in 2019.

Naamsa said sales were affected by the subdued macro-economic environment, pressure on consumers’ disposable income and fragile business and consumer confidence.

Passenger car sales declined by 2.7%, medium commercials by 4%, and heavy trucks and buses by 1.2%.

The only segment to grow in 2019 was medium commercials, which was up 10.5%. Naamsa said this could be truck customers buying down into smaller vehicles due to challenging economic conditions.

The affordability-driven market continued its buying-down trend in 2019 with sales of entry-level vehicles, small utility vehicles and crossovers performing well in relative terms.

The lowering of the interest rate by 25 basis points during July 2019 did not lend any significant support to the new vehicle market, Naamsa said.

The decline in new passenger car and light commercial vehicle sales occurred despite strong sales by the car-rental sector during the year and an improvement in new-vehicle affordability in real terms.

There was good news on the export front, however. New vehicles shipped overseas registered another annual record, with 386,863 units — an improvement of 35,724 (10.2%) compared to 2018. Passenger cars in particular registered a substantial gain of 17.7%.

Risks and opportunities for SA remain in 2020, said Naamsa. Downside risks include Eskom's continuing load-shedding crisis, with ripple effects on the economy, Moody’s pending decision on the country's investment rating, as well as a continuing weak domestic economic growth outlook.

On the positive side, the country’s inflation has declined to well within the target range of 3%-6%, and the industry’s exceptional export performance is set to continue.

These were the 30 top-selling vehicles in December 2019:

  1. Toyota Hilux: 3,080
  2. VW Polo Vivo: 1,779
  3. Ford Ranger: 1,724
  4. Renault Kwid: 1,631
  5. Toyota Etios: 1,433
  6. VW Polo: 1,410
  7. Isuzu D-Max 1,344
  8. Toyota Hi-Ace: 1,083
  9. Toyota Fortuner: 974
  10. Toyota Corolla Quest: 963
  11. Ford EcoSport: 837
  12. Nissan NP300: 777
  13. VW T-Cross: 685
  14. VW Tiguan: 630
  15. Toyota Yaris: 541
  16. VW Polo Sedan: 532
  17. Datsun GO: 530
  18. Toyota Avanza: 522
  19. Kia Seltos: 510
  20. Hyundai i20: 509
  21. Nissan NP200: 498
  22. Ford Figo: 497
  23. Toyota RAV4: 496
  24. Suzuki Swift: 443
  25. Hyundai Grand i10: 432
  26. Hyundai Creta: 420
  27. Kia Picanto: 385
  28. Hyundai Tucson: 378
  29. Renault Duster: 328
  30. Renault Sandero: 321

The list excludes Mercedes-Benz and Haval, who do not report their detailed sales figures.


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