April new vehicle sales rise, breaking eight months in a row of lower sales

Inside the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota’s section for new cars at N1 City in Goodwood. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Inside the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota’s section for new cars at N1 City in Goodwood. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 3, 2024


New vehicle sales went back into growth-mode in April after eight months of consecutive decline, gaining 2.2% to 38 172 units when compared with April a year ago, and despite another month of lower vehicle exports.

Export sales, an important factor in keeping the local automotive manufacturing industry commercially viable, recorded a decline of 23.9% to 23 394 units compared to exports in April 2023. April brought the cumulative decline in vehicle exports for the first four months of 2024 exports to 9.1%.

Naamsa | The Automotive Business Council CEO Mike Mabasa said the positive performance in the new vehicle market during April was a welcome development along with a full month of no load shedding, which had likely supported business conditions.

“Economic factors remain the most important aspects affecting new vehicle sales, and these include interest rates, unemployment rates, GDP growth rates, disposable income, and exchange rates.

As increases in interest rates changed the affordability model for consumers, downsizing purchases remained a significant factor linked to consumers being more selective and financially conscious in their vehicle choices,” he said.

The April new passenger car market at 25 972 units registered a 6.1% gain, compared to the 24,479 new cars sold in April 2023. The composition of the South African vehicle market reflected the growing popularity of less expensive, smaller cars, sport utility vehicles and crossovers, and light commercial vehicles, said Mabasa.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 9 646 units during April 2024 had recorded a decline of 9% compared with April 2023.

He said prospects for the new vehicle market in South Africa were expected to improve further after the upcoming May 2024 national elections, and once the interest rate cutting cycle commenced, which he said was likely during the second half of the year.

He said vehicle exports again declined by a big margin in April and export growth in 2024 would remain a function of the direction and economic performance of global markets.

“For the export-oriented South African automotive industry, the longer-term global economic outlook remains clouded by risks to the inflation trajectory, the recent conflict in the Middle East, and the effects of climate change. As an export-oriented industry, it is essential for the domestic automotive industry to continue diversifying risk by pursuing wider geographical exposure to mitigate the impact of country or regional cyclical economic conditions,” he said.

Medium and heavy truck segment sales reflected a sound performance for April at 590 units and 1 964 units, respectively, which is a 5.9% increase in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and a 14% increase in heavy truck and bus sales, compared to the corresponding month last year.