Accelerating car sales create 1000 new jobs

Figures released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) on Wednesday showed domestic vehicle sales rose at an annual rate of 12,7 percent to 45635 units, boosted by continued strong consumer spending. Domestic sales in the year to date were now nearly 20 percent ahead of the same period last year, outpacing expectations and setting the industry on the path to breaking last year’s record 565018 units. Industry analysts were revising their growth forecasts to between 15 percent and 20 percent, from about 10 percent, said Nissan’s director of marketing and sales, Roel de Vries. Vehicle export sales for the first three months of the year jumped 57,6 percent to 38541 units as new export programmes launched by car makers such as Ford and Toyota ramped up. Exports should remain in a “strong upward phase” for the rest of the year, said Naamsa. SA’s second-largest vehicle retailer, McCarthy, said last month’s domestic sales were the highest recorded in any April. The month’s result provided further evidence of the strong momentum in the market, said chairman Brand Pretorius. April sales were down steeply from March as a result of numerous public holidays, but Pretorius said the April daily sales rate matched that achieved in March ‘ the best month ever for the South African motor industry. Naamsa said strong demand continued to be underpinned by factors such as lower interest rates and better vehicle affordability. Volkswagen SA said the rate of growth in real new car prices remained “firmly in negative territory”. “This means that new cars, in relative terms, are continuing to become less expensive than other goods,” said Volkswagen SA sales and marketing director Mike Glendinning. SA’s major vehicle retailer, Toyota, said good April sales were achieved despite stock shortages in the industry stemming from bumper March sales. The vehicle segment accounting for most of the growth last month was heavy trucks, which notched up a 23 percent increase compared with the same month last year. This was on the back of strong fixed investment and infrastructural development. Medium commercial vehicles, considered an indicator of small business activity by some, grew 20,7 percent ahead of April last year. Passenger car growth was slower, rising 13,9 percent. The light commercial segment, which includes vehicles such as 4x4s and bakkies, recorded the lowest increase, at 8,3 percent. General Motors SA, the local arm of the world’s largest car maker, expected total domestic vehicle sales to grow by between 15 percent and 20 percent this month. Naamsa said the factors stimulating sales over the past year were expected to continue. The industry body said this year would be another record one for the industry. The wider automotive industry, including component manufacturing and after sales products and services, contributes more than 7 percent to SA’s gross domestic product. ‘ Business Day.

May 2006
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