The Easter holidays always produce a form of lottery for auto sales - with nobody sure how the market will behave, despite the reduced selling days, catastrophic floods in KwaZulu-Natal and disruptions to the supply chain due to Russia invading Ukraine, sales impressed.
Sales within the volume passenger car segment, assisted by ongoing impressive purchases by the vehicle rental companies, performed well. However, other divisions of the market performed weaker.
According to NAAMSA (The Automotive Business Council), the number of public holidays in April provides fewer selling days, which softens sales. Additionally, to the renewed impact of COVID-19, particularly in China, the worldwide shortages of semi-conductors, and the repercussions of the geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the added shock of the flooding disaster to domestic business conditions will be felt for some time.
Forecasts envisage a stop-start recovery for the domestic automotive industry in 2022, given prevailing COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions, insufficient stocks, and escalating energy and transportation costs.
Aggregate domestic new vehicle sales in April 2022, at 37 107 units, reflected a rise of 1 516 units, or 4,3%, compared to April 2021. Export sales rose by 4 248 units, or 16,0%, to 30,788 units in April 2022.
Overall, out of the entire reported industry sales, an estimated 32 809 units, or 88,4%, represented dealer sales, an estimated 9,1% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 1,5% sales to government, and 1,0% to industry-corporate fleets.
The April new passenger car market at 26 653 units registered a considerable increase of 2 924 cars, or a gain of 12,9%, compared to April 2021.
Domestic sales of the latest light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 9 558 units during April 2022 showed a decline of 1 291 units, or a fall of 11,9%, from the 10,849 light commercial vehicles sold during April 2021.
Sales for medium and heavy truck segments of the industry reflected a weak performance during the month and at 475 units and 1 421 units, respectively, showed a decline of 494 units, or 9,4% within the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, within the case of heavy trucks and buses a drop of 68 units or a fall of 4,6%.
A report from NAAMSA alludes to an increase in vehicle exports and optimistic prospects for April on the back of new locally manufactured model introductions. However, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will slow down global economic growth and increase inflation in 2022.
As automotive volumes in South Africa largely depend on export demand, the industry is at risk due to changes in export demand, particularly in Europe and the UK.
Mark Dommisse, Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers Association, says the South African motor industry continues to amaze commentators (industry and otherwise) with its tremendous ability to beat setbacks and disruptions.
Total sales of 37 107 units reflect a rise of 1 516 units from April 2021, but export sales managed to grow by 16% despite problems with road transport and severe disruptions at the port of Durban.
The Head of Marketing and Communication at WesBank, Lebogang Gaoaketse, says the market should not be alarmed by April results as volatility is the only constant within the market. Furthermore, volumes for April remain on the high end of last year’s performance.
Gaoaketse adds, “as the country’s new-vehicle market recovers, it's natural for WesBank’s new-to-used vehicle ratio to shift. While the bank continues to finance over two used vehicles for each new one, the ratio is shifting pro new vehicles. The real challenge will be the accessibility of excellent used vehicle stock given the market performance of the past two years, which can still stimulate new vehicle sales.”
Vehicle sales in South Africa weathered the storm in April. Sales continued on the optimistic trajectory amid the natural disaster in KwaZulu Natal and the Russia-Ukraine geopolitical squabble.