New vehicle sales improve 23% in March

New vehicle sales domestically improved by 23% in March, compared to the same month in 2010, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South African (Naamsa) said on Monday.

“… New vehicle sales, in all the major segments, had registered further strong gains compared to the corresponding month last year,” Naamsa said in a statement.

Aggregate industry domestic sales improved by 23% to 53 478 vehicles from 43 541 units sold during March last year.

In addition, total domestic sales for the first quarter of 2011 were 22% ahead of the corresponding three months in 2010.

Of the new vehicle sales for March, 86% were dealer sales and 6% represented sales to the government.

Also, 4% were corporate fleet sales and 3% represented sales to the car rental industry.

New car sales for March 2011 showed a “substantial improvement” of 24% compared to March 2010.

‘Strong recovery’
“The strong recovery in sales of new cars over the past 15 months reflected a robust recovery on the consumption side of the South African economy driven by the 6,5% decline in interest rates since December 2008 which had improved the financial position of consumers and businesses and reduced the debt servicing costs of households and companies,” Naamsa said.

Aggressive marketing campaigns also contributed to improved sales levels.

“Concerns about future availability of Japanese products, affected by the natural disasters in Japan, may have contributed to some pre-emptive buying in the month,” it said.

Sales of industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses improved by 22% in March compared to the corresponding month in 2010.

“As anticipated, light commercial vehicle sales are starting to show signs of a fairly strong revival on the back of improved economic activity levels.”

The low volume bus segment did not show much improvement.

The medium truck segment sales improved by 17% in March 2011, compared to March 2010.

Over the same period, heavy truck segment sales improved 21% to 1 691 units sold.

“The ongoing gains in medium and heavy truck sales suggested an improvement in fixed investment sentiment in the economy.”

Naamsa said total export sales at 29 254 vehicles in March 2011 represented the highest monthly vehicle export performance on record for a single month.

March 2011 export sales improved 37% compared to March last year.

“With further recovery in the global economy expected during course of 2011, industry export sales were expected to reach 300 000 units in 2011.” — Sapa

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