Brandon Cohen, the Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA)

The new year has started with the expected flat trend for new vehicle sales. "It was generally predicted that the first half of 2024 would see little growth in the overall market after declines in each of the last five months of 2023," said Brandon Cohen, Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA), when commenting on the January sales figures distributed by naamsa | The Automotive Business Council today.

As explained in January following the release of the December 2023 sales statistics, various companies vary the timing of their reporting periods over December or January. Generally, these months need to be read together. On this occasion, the January aggregate total of 41,636 units is remarkably similar to the December total of 40,329 units, but it was 3.8% lower than the figure for January a year ago. Of the total reported industry sales of 41,636 vehicles, an estimated 35,108 units, or 84.3% represented dealer sales.

"It seems the dreaded 'Januworry' has taken effect with a further decline in consumer affordability due to the cost of living increases and the political climate uncertainty of an election year. Even the fact that the vehicle rental industry bought 11.5% of the total vehicles sold in January could not prevent another month of decline," added Cohen.

The passenger car market fell by 6.7%, while light commercial vehicles were up by 2.3%, medium truck sales rose 13.3% off a low base, and the heavy truck and bus market grew 7.9% when compared with January 2023. Exports were disappointing, with the January total of 20,242 vehicles being 2.1% down on the figure for January 2023.

"There is now a lot of focus from dealers, manufacturers, distributors, component manufacturers and consumers on what the government will have to say at the President's State of the Nation Address on 8 February and the Finance Minister's National Budget Speech on 21 February.

"Hopefully, there will be some good news that could lend to an improvement in consumer sentiment or, from an industry perspective, more certainty about the regulatory framework for selling and manufacturing of new energy vehicles in the Budget Speech," concluded Cohen.

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