New vehicle sales surge to record in October 2004

Pretoria - Last month's new car sales surged to the best level on record for the month of October, with 1 087 new cars sold each working day compared with only 895 car sales a day in the same period last year.

Figures released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) yesterday revealed that new car sales rose by almost 17 percent to 28 268 units last month compared with sales achieved in the corresponding month last year.

But the new car sales figures last month represented a decline of 2.9 percent, or 841 units, compared with the 29 109 new cars sold in September this year.

But Rashika Lalla, an economist at Standard Bank, said this was to be expected at the latter part of the year because many motorists put off their purchases in the last quarter to register their new vehicles in the new year.

"So, on a monthly basis, sales are likely to continue to decline until December and pick up again in 2005.
"But this will not diminish the phenomenal performance of the sector this year, which is well on track for its best sales year ever," she said.

Brand Pretorius, the chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings, attributed the slight decline in new car sales last month compared with the previous month to reduced deliveries into the car rental sector.

He said the bulk of the growth in the new car market was coming from the light and medium car segments, followed by entry-level vehicles, while the luxury car segment remained under pressure and year to date had contracted by more than 4 percent.

Tony Twine, a motor industry analyst and director of Econometrix, said the new vehicle market was showing continued strength.

"Setting aside the small downward correction in car sales [compared with September], which was nothing more than a technical hiccup, it was a very good month for light commercial vehicles, medium commercial vehicles and heavy commercial vehicles over 8.5 tons, which all had their best performance this year," he said.

In regard to the technical hiccup, Twine said the big players in the passenger market all seemed to do at least as well last month as in September and the drag seemed to have come from the smaller players "who may not have been able to sustain supply at the very elevated rates of September".

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses last month increased by 38.6 percent to 12 255 units, medium commercial vehicles shot up by 35.7 percent to 924 units, and heavy truck and bus sales by 20.1 percent to 1 213 units compared with sales recorded in October last year.

Nico Vermeulen, Naamsa's executive director, said the strength in commercial vehicles sales generally reflected positive business sentiment and strength in fixed investment in the economy.

"Moreover, over the medium term, commercial vehicles sales would continue to be supported by higher infrastructural spending by the government and the strong momentum in the economy," he said.

Jolyon Nash, sales and marketing director at Volkswagen (VW), said it had maintained its lead in the passenger market, with sales of 6 702 new cars, beating the competition for the fourth month running.

Strong performers in the VW stable were the Citi/Chico, the Polo/Polo Classic, the new Golf and Touran models, he said.

Toyota was the overall leader of the new vehicle market, with total sales of 10 375 units last month.

Article by: Roy Cokayne -