Vehicle sales surge 14% year-on-year
New vehicle sales for January improved 14.1 percent compared to the same month last year, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) said.
A total of 55,007 units were sold, an improvement of 6,805 vehicles compared to last January.
All major segments recorded double digit year-on-year growth: new cars 12.3 percent; light commercials 20 percent; medium commercials 10.6 percent; heavy trucks 30 percent; and, extra heavy trucks 16.6 percent.
January 2013 export sales, at 17,399 vehicles, reflected a gain of 49.9 percent compared to January last year.
Discussions are ongoing between Mercedes-Benz SA (Pty) Ltd, Daimler AG, the trade and industry department and others to facilitate the early resumption of full industry sales reporting.
Overall, out of the total detailed reported industry sales of 52,775 vehicles (excluding Mercedes-Benz SA), 76.9 percent represented dealer sales, 16.7 percent sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3.2 percent to government, and 3.2 percent to industry corporate fleets.
Continued strong demand by the car rental industry accounted for 22.5 percent of total new car sales during the month.
Naamsa said recent exchange rate weakness would have contributed to pre-emptive buying by consumers to avoid higher expected prices.
Including estimates for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle sales by segment, sales of industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses -- at 13,346 units during January 2013 -- reflected an increase of 20 percent compared to the corresponding month last year.
New vehicle exports increased 49.9 percent compared to January last year.
Factors that would continue to support domestic sales included the low interest rate environment, replacement demand, the highly competitive trading environment with attractive incentives, low debt-servicing costs, new models with advanced technology, and strong demand by car rental companies.
On the negative side, rising inflationary pressures would limit growth in real disposable income. Together with anticipated rising new vehicle prices as a result of the weaker exchange rate, this could result in some drop in the rate of sales growth for the rest of the year.
Industry production, largely as a result of higher new vehicle exports, should register "encouraging" growth in 2013.
The Ford Motor Company of SA said its sales were up 12 percent, compared with January 2012, with the Ford Focus recording the best volume month since its launch, with 423 models sold.