New-vehicle sales continued their downward slide in March, declining for a third month in a row in 2019.
March new-vehicle sales were down 3.1%, to 47 718 units, compared with the same month last year.
Weakening consumer and business confidence, as well as a fragile rand, hampered numbers.
“Household budgets continue to take strain, directly impacting demand for new vehicles as motorists hold on to their vehicles for longer,” says WesBank Motor executive head Ghana Msibi.
“At least interest rates remained unchanged [in March], providing some small form of relief for consumers.”
March passenger car sales declined by 5.6%, to 30 348 cars.
Sales through the dealer channel were down 8.7% for passenger cars and 3% for bakkies, vans, small trucks and minibuses. There was also an ongoing shift from new to used.
The National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) reports that dealer sales had declined by 6.4% for the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year.
“Many dealer principals within the NADA network have commented on noticeably slower foot traffic on showroom floors. This is clearly a sign of economic pressures on household budgets,” says NADA chairperson Mark Dommisse.
Overall new-vehicle market performance in the first quarter, saw sales contract by 4.8% compared with the first quarter of 2018.
Commercial vehicle sales delivered some good news in March. Sales of bakkies, vans, small trucks and minibuses in the light commercial vehicle market were up 1.9%, to 14 994 units.
Sales of medium and heavy trucks increased by 6.2% and 5.3%, respectively.
Extra-heavy truck and bus sales declined by 3.6% and 12.9%, respectively.
Going forward, steep April fuel price increases are expected to contribute to the household burden, as will the continued impact and threat of load-shedding.
Msibi remains optimistic about the market’s performance in the second half in the year, however.
“While sobering, the market picture is not all doom and gloom, nor unexpected. We forecast first half sales to be slow with a better-performing second half.
“The market will remain under pressure during April, which will be impacted by public holidays and resultant fewer selling days, as well as a wait-and-see mentality heading up to the elections in May.”
The National Automobile Association of South Africa reports that March new-vehicle export sales increased by 23.7%, to 37 296 units.
Top-selling cars, bakkies and vans in March:
1. Toyota Hilux 4 252
2. VW Polo Vivo 2 498
3. Ford Ranger 2 376
4. Nissan NP200 2 144
5. Isuzu D-Max 1 445
6. VW Polo 1 383
7. Toyota Quantum 1 310
8. Toyota Corolla 1081
8. Renault Kwid 1 081
10. Hyundai Grand i10 1 030