National Vice-Chairperson of Nada, Thembinkosi Pantsi, said the decline in new vehicle sales last month was generally less than the industry expected.
Total new vehicle sales declined by 2% year-on-year last month to 45 445 units from the 46 350 vehicles sold in October 2022.
Sales of new passenger cars dropped by 3.5% to 29 912 units and new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses by 3% to 12 361 units, although sales of medium commercial vehicles increased by 8.3% to 807 units and heavy trucks and bus sales by 26% to 2 365 units.
Pantsi said 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 currently also affecting several parts of South Africa.
"It's quite clear that the ongoing buy-down trend is continuing 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 of certain brands has also contributed to the drop in October numbers, leading consumers to opt for demo models or pre-owned vehicles," he said.
Pantsi said Nada was surprised and proud that the retail sales channel, which sells vehicles through franchised dealers, managed to sell 36 468 units and accounted for 80.2% of the total 45 445 unit sales in October 2023.
He said this was only 2% lower than the figure recorded in October 2022.
Pantsi said the increased sales of medium commercial vehicles and heavy trucks and buses were a positive achievement.
“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.
“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,” he said.
WesBank head of marketing and communications, Lebo Gaoaketse, said there was no denying the economic headwinds that continue to face South Africans and the impact these will have on purchase decisions in the new-vehicle market.
“The market remains under pressure, but at relatively stable and reassuring levels,” he said.