Slight uptick in sales in April

South Africa’s new vehicle industry in April this year reversed eight consecutive months of sales decline.

Brandon Cohen National Chairperson NADA 40

This prompted the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) to remark that the automotive sector was showing resilience despite the challenges it has faced.

Total new vehicle sales increased by 2.2% in April 2024 to 38 172 units from the 37 358 unit sales achieved in the corresponding month in 2023.

NADA chairperson, Brandon Cohen, says almost 90% of these sales were facilitated through dealer retail channels.

He says the new passenger car market achieved a commendable 6% growth in sales, which was accompanied by improvements in the sales of medium and heavy trucks although light commercial vehicle sales volumes declined by 9%.

“This upturn is particularly significant given the eight consecutive months of sales decline that preceded it, marking a promising development for the industry,” he says.

Cohen emphasised the resilience of this performance, especially considering that many potential buyers were apprehensive during the month because of the national general election in May 2024.

He highlighted that further analysis revealed a more nuanced perspective on the recent increase in new vehicle sales.

Cohen says the industry typically focuses on year-on-year sales comparisons but new vehicle sales in March 2024 outperformed sales in April 2024 despite the challenges the market faced in March this year, including public and school holidays and issues such as load-shedding and higher fuel prices.

He says this highlights the need for a comprehensive understanding of market fluctuations, acknowledging both year-on-year trends and month-to-month variations, while taking into account the realities of a difficult current consumer market anticipating the upcoming elections on 29 May 2024.

Cohen says this also shed light on the underlying dynamics of the market and will mean that all eyes will be on sales going forward. However, he expresses optimism about the future and anticipates continued resilience and adaptation within South Africa’s automotive sector.

“The industry’s ability to weather challenges and exhibit year-on-year comparative growth amidst adversity is commendable. Our focus remains on leveraging data insights to inform strategic decisions and drive continued progress.

“As the industry navigates evolving landscapes and adapts to changing consumer behaviours, we continue to see new vehicle sales of around the 40 000 plus mark,” he says.

WesBank head of marketing and communication, Lebo Gaoaketse, says despite new vehicle sales showing “a blip of positivity” last month by increasing by 2.2% year-on-year, the market will be wary of it being false hope against the pending elections, the high interest rate environment and the seemingly relentless eight-month run of negative growth until now.

Gaoaketse says sales in April 2024 were a significant 5 836 units down on sales registered in March 2024, a month in which new vehicle sales were 12.2% lower year-on-year.

“Any year-on-year comparisons must also be considered within the number of selling days during April. March sales this year were heavily impacted by the public holidays being early in the calendar when the holidays fell within April 2023. It means April 2024 sales were earned in 21 selling days versus 18 days in April 2023.”

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