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The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa [NAAMSA] said that new vehicle sales continued to disappoint into May, 2019 while export sales were also
down for the first time this year. Reflecting on the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of May 2019 released recently for public consumption via the website of the Department of Trade and Industry NAAMSA confirmed that aggregate domestic sales at 40 506 units showed a decline of 2 444 units or 5,7% from the 42 950 vehicles sold in May last year. Export sales had registered a decline of 2 866 vehicles or a fall of 8,8% compared to the 32 829 vehicles exported in May last year.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 40 506 vehicles, an estimated 35 506 units or 87,7% represented dealer sales, an estimated 5,8% represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3,6% to industry corporate fleets and 2,9% to government.

The May 2019 new passenger car market had registered a decline of 378 cars or a fall of 1,4% to 26 170 units compared to the 26 548 new cars sold in May last year. The car rental Industry’s contribution accounted for 7,9% of new car sales in May 2019.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 12 197 units during May 2019 had recorded a decline of 1 816 units or a fall of 13,0% from the 14 013 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

Sales in the medium and heavy truck segments of the Industry had a mixed performance and at 681 units and 1 458 units, respectively, reflected a marginal increase of 2 vehicles or an improvement of 0,3%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, a decline of 252 vehicles or a fall of 14,7% compared to the corresponding month last year.

The May 2019 export sales number represented an unexpected decline with export sales at 29 850 vehicles reflecting a decrease of 8,8% compared to the 32 716 vehicles exported in the same month last year. The momentum of vehicle exports over the course of 2019 should, however, increase further with vehicle exports for the first five months of the year still 20,1% higher than the corresponding period last year.

Demand for new vehicles is likely to remain under pressure in the coming months as the market continues to be affected by numerous constraining factors. The ABSA Purchasing Manager’s Index decreased from 47,2 points in April 2019 to 45,4 points in May 2019 which does not bode well for a recovery in activity in the manufacturing sector. Subdued economic circumstances in coming months, low consumer and business confidence levels, household disposable income which remains under pressure and global economic growth forecasts which continues to signal moderation pose worrying trends for the broader manufacturing sector.

However, in anticipation of an improved economic growth rate for the year compared to 2018, albeit modest, a better second half performance in terms of new vehicle sales is still expected while the upward momentum on the export side remains strong and industry vehicle production levels would continue to benefit from strong vehicle export sales.