Lockdown continues to devastate local new-vehicle sales

Year-to-date car sales plummet 28.1% and bakkies are down 38.5%, as dealers wait for word on resumption of retail activities

04 May 2020 - 17:00 By Denis Droppa
The Covid-19 lockdown has caused new-car sales to decline nearly 30% in the first four months of the year.
The Covid-19 lockdown has caused new-car sales to decline nearly 30% in the first four months of the year.
Image: Denis Droppa

New-vehicle sales in SA ground to a virtual standstill in April due to the Covid-19 lockdown, which forced the stoppage of all motor manufacturing and sales.

The industry total of 574 cars, bakkies and trucks recorded sold last month represented a 98.4% decline compared to April 2019, according to figures released on Monday by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa).

The figures show that Ford topped the list with 304 units sold, ahead of Toyota with 93 units. Some of these were online sales to entities involved in providing essential services, and also overflow sales from the month before due to registration delays. Most brands recorded no sales at all in April.

The strict Covid-19 regulations have had a devastating effect on the local automotive industry. The previous month, with the country hit by physical distancing from the middle of the month and lockdown from March 27, new-vehicle sales dropped 29.7% to 33,545 units compared to March 2019.

That leaves year-to-date new-car sales down 28.1% compared to 2019, with light-commercial vehicles (bakkies and minibuses) plummeting 38.5%, medium trucks and buses reduced by 27.3% and heavy trucks by 29.9%.

Automotive factories were allowed to reopen on Monday under the new level 4 lockdown restrictions that came into effect on May 1, but motor dealers were still unsure whether they were allowed to sell cars.

Last week the government announced that automotive dealers were now allowed to trade under the risk-adjusted Covid-19 strategy, and gradual opening of car sales would be set out in directions to be published shortly.

Naamsa CEO Mike Mabasa said the motor industry met with the government on Monday and submitted recommendations to allow the resumption of car sales under level 4, and was hoping for a decision by Wednesday.

For now, motor dealers are allowed to carry out emergency vehicle repairs under level 4, while routine servicing may only start taking place under level 2.