By: Leo Kok

Motor industry commentator, and director at Mediaserve, Leo Kok gives us a breakdown of SA new vehicle sales for November 2018.

It was another tough month for new vehicle sales in South Africa. The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Naamsa) reported that 47 486 vehicles were sold last month. That is 4,6 per cent lower than the same month last year and around 8 per cent lower than October 2018.

Rentals dominate

The numbers look even more dreary when you consider that, according to Naamsa, 16,3 per cent of all vehicles and a massive 23,9 per cent of all passenger vehicles were bought by rental companies. It is customary for vehicle rental companies to buy new stock before the busy festive season, but in this instance, it did not add to overall sales, but rather propped them up.

The Naamsa figures show that 31 054 passenger vehicles were sold (a drop of 5 4 per cent over November last year) and that light commercial sales (bakkies and vans) dropped by 6,1 per cent to 13 695 vehicles. Medium- and heavy trucks showed good growth, but keep in mind that these represent very small numbers.

Higher rates

Naamsa and many of the big trading banks lay the blame for the poor sales figures at the feet of the interest rate increase. This, they say, put significant pressure on consumers’ already stretched budgets and led to many postponed or canceled purchases.

Premium brands

In the upper stratosphere of new vehicle sales, the interest rate increase did not seem to bother buyers. Ferrari sold no less than 11 cars and their sister brand Maserati delivered five new vehicles. Bentley sold three Bentaygas (they supposedly have a very long waiting list) and one Continental.

Unfortunately, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz do not report their figures in any detail, so we only have aggregate numbers to work with. BMW beat Merc in the passenger car market (1 395 units to 962 units), but Mercedes won overall with 1 630 sales when you add their bakkies and trucks. Rival brand Audi sold 798 units and Porsche sold 115 units in the same month.

Click here to read our Mercedes-Benz X350d launch report.

Exports on the rise

There was some good news in the vehicle export figures. It is the fourth consecutive month that exports have been higher than 30 000 units (34 352 units), helped in no small part by BMW that is now cranking out the new X3 at much higher levels for total exports of 7 207 units. Mercedes remains the export king with 8 306 C-Class units.

With the market losing momentum in November, it is very likely that South Africa will end the sales-year in the red. Aside from the slight increase of 1,8 per cent in 2017 (total sales of 557 586 for the full year), vehicle sales have been in decline since 2013, when the market reached 649 216 sales.