According to NAAMSA, the Automotive Business Council, the sales total reflected an increase of 7 184 units, or 16,5%, from the 43 423 vehicles sold in March 2021 and of that, an estimated 43 441 units, or 85,8%, represented dealer sales, 8,2% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 4,6% sales to government, and 1,4% to industry corporate fleets.
In the passenger segment, the newly launched Corolla Cross was a top seller with 2,384 units sold and, in total, sales of 33 790 units registered a substantial increase of 7 191 cars, or a gain of 27,0%, compared to the 26 599 new vehicles sold in March 2021. The car rental industry supported the new passenger car market during the month and accounted for 11,0% of car sales in March 2022.
Hilux remained SA’s favourite vehicle with a sales total of 4 561.
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TSAM Leon Theron says, “Close to 70% of the vehicles sold by TSAM in March were either produced or assembled locally at the Prospecton Plant in Durban. These include segment leaders Hilux, Corolla Cross, Hiace Ses’fikile (1 644) and Fortuner (1 082)."
Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 13 795 units dipped by 2,7 % compared to March last year, while medium and heavy commercial climbed by 18,4% for medium and 14,5% for heavies.
A total of more than 1,5-million car parts were supplied to domestic dealers in March, while a further 279 000 pieces went to foreign markets.
The new vehicle market performance during March 2022, reaching a positive level last achieved pre-COVID-19, could be attributed to pent up demand aligned with the increasing normalising of business conditions and enticing new model choices in the domestic market.
“The temporary reduction in the general fuel levy by R1,50 per litre from April, to curtail the record fuel prices to some extent, as well as further relief measures to follow as announced by Finance Minister Godongwana, have been welcomed by motorists,” says NAAMSA.
However, escalating inflation risks, ongoing record fuel prices, low and stagnant economic growth and a rising interest rate cycle will negatively impact the new-vehicle market. The SA Reserve Bank raised interest rates in November 2021 and in January and March 2022, and the upward trend will continue over the balance of the year to subdue inflation.
“In the face of interest rate hikes, spiking fuel prices, and the ongoing industry challenges of supply, March’s new-vehicle market provided a lot to celebrate,” says Lebogang Gaoaketse, Head of Marketing and Communication at WesBank.
Despite all these challenges, March indicated a positive sign of sustained growth.
Rising food, fuel and electricity prices will adversely impact all households over the short to medium term, and consumers should brace themselves for the ongoing cost of living increases.
Albeit forecasts for the year may well need to be adjusted down given global conflicts, March sales have returned a level of excitement to the South African new-vehicle market. This impressive performance in the face of the current socio-economic challenges is a cause for optimism.