Total new vehicle sales dip in January But light commercial sales move upwards

New vehicle sales in January 2024 (42 215 units) were 2.5% down on January 2023, according to naamsa, although sales were 4.8% up on December 2023.

 Passenger vehicle sales dropped by 4.9% year-on-year in January to 29 360 units, while Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) sales increased by 2.6% to 10 894 units, when compared with January 2023.


Overall sales for the full year of 2023 were 0.5% higher than for 2022, and 14.5% above sales for the same window in 2021. Perhaps more significantly, new vehicle sales in 2023 ended the year 0.9% behind the 2019 sales volume after running ahead for much of the year.

naamsa reported a total of 532 041 units sold between January and December, of which around 84% represented dealer sales. Passenger vehicle sales (see graph below) were down 4.4% year-on-year for the twelve months, whilst sales of LCVs grew 11.6% compared to 2022. The car rental industry accounted for an estimated 13.5% of new Passenger car sales in the January-December window, lower than the 14.2% share in 2022 and 13.7% in 2021.

January to December - Passenger & Light Commercial new vehicle sales

The market outlook for 2024 is showing some growth over 2023, despite continued pressures throughout the macroeconomic environment, with GDP expected to grow at a little over 1% and the Rand steadying against major global currencies. Headline consumer inflation is projected to continue within the Reserve Bank’s 3% - 6% target range, with the possibility of the Reserve Bank beginning to cut interest rates only likely to happen in the second half of the year.

Anticipated new vehicle sales for 2024 sit at around 537 000 units, of which 504 000 are Light Vehicles (Passenger and Light Commercial). Overall, growth in new vehicle sales is expected to end 2024 in the region of 1%, higher than the 0.5% growth in new vehicle sales in 2023.


Market observations – segment

The Crossover segment (which includes the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro, Nissan Magnite and Toyota Corolla Cross) was the largest Light Vehicle (Passenger & LCV markets) segment in South Africa in 2023, with 106 772 new units sold – of which 88% were Dealer sales, and 7.3% reported through the Rental channel. Sales for the Crossover segment for the twelve months dipped 11.7% from the same window in 2022, and make up 21.4% of all Light Vehicle sales in 2023 – less than the 24.2% market share for 2022.

The second-best performing segment in terms of volume was the Entry segment (Renault Kwid, Toyota Starlet and VW Polo Vivo) with 91 035 units sold over the twelve months of 2023, a 1.1% increase from the same window in 2022.

Sales for the Panel Van segment, which currently includes the likes of Suzuki Eeco, Toyota Quantum and Volkswagen Caddy Cargo, picked up 44.1% year-on-year in the January-December period from 2022, which in turn was 16.7% higher than the segment total for 2021.

This makes the Panel Van segment the best-performing Light Vehicle segment in terms of sales growth, despite not being one of the bigger segments. Over the twelve months of 2023, the Panel Van segment made up 1.0% of all Light Vehicle sales, up from 0.7% market share in the same period in 2022.

The second most improved segment for year-on-year growth in 2023 was the Minibus segment (which includes the Ford Torneo Custom, Toyota Hiace and Volkswagen Caddy), with sales climbing 22.9% from a year earlier.


Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Sales

 New Hybrid & Electric Passenger vehicle sales (which includes Traditional Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid and Battery Electric vehicles) for the twelve months of 2023 numbered 7 658 units, and were 64% up on 2022, which in turn had leapt 421% from 2021. The full Passenger Market share for these vehicles was 2.2% for the full year of 2023.


Traditional Hybrid vehicles continue to contribute the majority of these sales with an 85% share of the sub-segment over 2023, with Battery Electric vehicles making up 12% of sales and Plug-in Hybrid vehicles responsible for 3%.