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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

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

Along with another decline in vehicle exports, the apparent lack of interest in supporting alternatively fuelled vehicles didn't sit well with NAAMSA.

The refusal by the South Africa’s automotive industry to buckle under the current economic challenges continued unabated in February with a record fourteenth straight month of new vehicle sales increases.

The figures

As in previous months, Toyota remained top with sales of 11 560 units, followed by arch-rivals Volkswagen (5 288), Suzuki (4 309), Nissan (3 172) and Hyundai (2 715). Behind the top five came Ford (2 499), Renault (2 112), Isuzu (2 057), Kia (1 843) and Haval (1 538).

In announcing the latest figures, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) recorded a scant 2.6% sales increase from last year’s 44 224 units, to this year’s 45 352.

Despite being smaller than the percentage year-on-year calculated in January, the February overall total still represented an increase of 1 843 units.

In the various segment, mostly positive news continued with new passenger vehicle sales improving, but only just, by 1.1% from 29 657 to 29 976 and light commercial vehicles by a more substantial 5.5% from 12 289 to 12 972.

ALSO READ: Three Toyota models lead, as new vehicle sales start year off on a high

The drop in medium-duty commercial vehicle sales from 517 in February last year, to 435 units this year was also disappointing. Heavy-duty commercial sales went the other way though, with an increase of 58 units from 1 186 to 1 244.

For the second time this year, new vehicle exports dipped into a red with a hefty decline of 11.5% from 2022’s 34 352 to 30 409 in 2023.

NAAMSA reacts

“The South African Reserve Bank’s decision to increase interest rates for the eighth time in a row is a reminder that South Africa, like much of the world, is still in the midst of an increased cost-of-living predicament caused by global geo-political events such as the Russia/Ukraine conflict, lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a global inflationary environment” NAAMSA said in a statement.

“In addition, consumer spending and household discretionary income continues to shrink with increases in fuel costs, electricity costs and many other basic costs that impacts directly on vehicle sales decisions of our motorists”.

The association also expressed it’s dismay at the lack of any government support for new energy vehicles (NEV), consisting of hybrid and EVs, describing it as having “dampened the spirits within the sector”.

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