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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Record uptakes over as new vehicle sales decline in March

First decrease in 14 months by a scant 0.6% only impacted one of the five vehicle segments.


A record fifteenth month increase in South Africa’s new vehicle sales has officially been negated, but only just, as a result of increases in the repo rate, the already high 11.25% lending rate and the Human Right’s Day public holiday on the 21st.

The top 10

In bringing the end of 14 months consecutive increases, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) posted an overall decrease of 0.6% in March with sales of 50 157 vehicles versus March 2022’s 50 465.

Unsurprisingly, Toyota kept its position as South Africa’s best-selling marque with sales of 13 406 units, an increase of 1 846 vehicles from the 11 560 sold in February this year.

ALSO READ: Lack of NEV support slated as new vehicle sales rise in February

Arch rivals Volkswagen endured a better month in March than in February with sales of 6 139 units versus February’s 5 288, with Suzuki placing third on 3 734, Hyundai fourth on 3 032 and Nissan fifth with 3 012.

Completing the rest of the top 10 were Ford (2 993), Isuzu (2 691), Renault (2 058), Haval (2 002) and Kia (1 833).

New: Sales of NEVs recorded

As per its support for new energy vehicles (NEV), comprising hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), Naamsa also compiled, for the first time, an individual breakdown of NEV sales, but only until the end of February this year.

In 2022, 4 674 NEVs were sold in South Africa, made-up of 4 050 hybrids, 122 plug-in hybrids and 502 EVs.

For the month ending February 2023, 1 173 units departed dealership floors – 990 being hybrids, 23 plug-in hybrids and 160 EVs.

Final figures

Out of the country’s five respective segments, only new passenger vehicle sales posted a decline, with sales falling 6.4% from 33 788 in 2022, to 31 631 in 2023.

Light commercial vehicles headed in the opposite direction with an uptake of 11.1% from 13 973 to 15 529.

On the medium-and heavy-duty commercial vehicle front, the former increased by 10.1% from 790 to 870, and the latter by 11.1% from 1 914 to 2 217 units sold.

After two consecutive months in the red, exports ended March positively with an increase of 3.1% from 33 108 to 34 134.

Naamsa still optimistic

“While vehicle production is ramping up and the overall performance vehicle sales and exports sales has been steadily increasing, the continued monetary policy tightening, domestic and global slowing growth, as well as energy shortages will have greater spill over to the overall performance of the industry,” Naamsa said in a statement.

“With this being said, Naamsa remains upbeat that our forecast for domestic sales will grow by 6.3% [at 563 000 units] for 2023 and export sales will grow by 8.3% [380 900 units]”.

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