South Africa’s vehicle retailers once again demonstrate resilience in challenging trading conditions
Thembinkosi Pantsi, the Vice-Chairperson of NADA and head of the action group

: "South Africa's total vehicle sales, as well as those in the passenger car and light commercial vehicle segments, all declined in October compared to the same month the previous year. However, the declines were generally smaller than the industry had anticipated. Additionally, some relief came from increased sales in the medium and heavy truck and bus segments, while built-up vehicle exports surged by almost 40%," commented Thembinkosi Pantsi, National Vice-Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA), after analysing the sales figures distributed today by naamsa | The Automotive Business Council.

"The macroeconomic climate in South Africa is not conducive to consumers making significant purchasing decisions. Unemployment, poverty, and inequality remain the key issues affecting our country. Frequent power outages continue to disrupt daily life and business operations, while water shortages and intermittent supply are also affecting several parts of South Africa these days.

"It's quite clear that the ongoing buydown trend continues as the Chinese brands gain more momentum, alongside affordable mobility options from other brands. The tough economic conditions, policy uncertainty, and the high cost of living are massive problems. The increase in new car prices on certain brands has also contributed to the drop in October numbers, leading consumers to opt for demo models or pre-owned vehicles," highlighted Pantsi.

"Nevertheless, we were surprised and proud that the retail sales channel, which sells vehicles through franchised dealers, managed to sell 36,468 units, accounting for 80.2% of the total for October, which stood at 45,445 units. This was only 2% below the figure recorded in October 2022. Passenger car sales were down by 3.5%, and light commercial vehicle sales slowed by 3%. Car sales to rental fleets made up 18.3% of the passenger car total of 29,912 units.

"On the positive side, medium truck sales increased by 8.3%, and sales in the heavy truck and bus segment rose by a surprising 26% to 2,365 units for the month of October. This indicates a measure of underlying confidence in the business sector, considering that these vehicles represent significant investments at a time when many economic commentators are raising warning flags," added Pantsi.

"The comments regarding assistance for the industry in terms of transitioning to New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) in the mid-term budget speech were lacklustre, providing no concrete facts and figures. Instead, there was only a reference to tax incentives that will be detailed in the 2024 Budget Review. There is also a proposal for a pan-African battery manufacturing collaboration.

"As we enter the last two months of 2023, we are still 2.1% ahead of 2022 in terms of our year-to-date total sales figures. We are confident that we should be able to maintain a positive figure at the end of December," concluded Pantsi.

NADA is a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).