South African market recovering, says Motus

South Africa's new vehicle sales are “a great sign” of an economy that is recovering despite all the doom and gloom about, says Osman Arbee, CEO of JSE-listed automotive business, Motus.

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Arbee bases this comment on new vehicle sales of 536 000 in the pre-COVID-19 pandemic 2019 calendar year, the slump in sales to 380 000 new vehicles in the middle of the pandemic and severe lockdowns in 2020 and the “jump” to 464 000 new vehicle sales in 2021.

He says Motus is projecting total new vehicle sales of between 510 000 and 530 000 in the 2022 calendar year but admits some people are projecting 540 000 new vehicle sales.

“Assuming we get to 520 000 or 525 000, that is a fantastic number compared to where we were before COVID-19 and where we are getting to.

“So we could already be at pre-COVID-19 levels in 2022,” he says.

Most analysts have forecast that new vehicle sales will only get back to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2023.

Arbee adds that Motus in South Africa, at end-December 2021, accounted for 22.6% of cars sold in South Africa compared to 20% in June 2021 and December 2020.

“Despite the decline in sales, we managed to grow our market share to slightly below one in five new cars that are sold,” he says.

Arbee says the four vehicle brands Motus imports – Hyundai, Renault, Kia and Mitsubishi – together increased their share of the South African new vehicle market to 19.2% at end-December 2021 from 16.1% previously.

“Hyundai is leading with a 7.6% market share followed by Renault with 5.6%, Kia with 5.3% and Mitsubishi with 0.7%.

“All-in-all its a great achievement by our four imported brands,” he says.

Arbee says Motus increased its vehicle sales by 26% to 51 755 vehicles in South Africa in the six months to end-December 2021.

“This is all happening when COVID-19 is still unquelled, stock shortages are alive and well and interest rates are starting to rise as well,” he says.

Arbee has highlighted a shift in consumer buying patterns in the passenger vehicle market in South Africa over the past two to three years.

He says the five-door hatch accounts for 30.1% of total South African passenger car sales, sport utility vehicles (SUV) and crossover vehicles for another 30.4% of the market and the light commercial vehicle (LCV) or bakkies another 25.7%.

“If you add up those numbers, you virtually get 86% of the total market in three categories of vehicles.

“Why is that so important? We are fortunate in two of the three categories – the five-door hatch and SUV and crossover markets – that our importers are playing well in that game, are very proactive and have very well-priced products.

“Then the other dealerships that we have – the Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda dealerships – all play in that game as well and that helps our market and in delivering a service to the consumer,” he says.

Arbee reckons Toyota is obviously number one in the LCV market but Hyundai and Kia also play in the bakkie market although they did not have a comprehensive range of products like Toyota, Isuzu and Volkswagen.

Motus last week reported a 51% increase in headline earnings per share to 795 cents in the six months to end-December 2021 from 526 cents in the prior period.

Revenue rose by 1% to R44.8 billion and operating profit by 23% to R2.15 billion.

Arbee says Motus has a target of delivering double digit earnings growth in the next six months to end-June 2022.

However, Arbee says there are always caveats to forecasts and Motus’s earnings growth is subject to there not being any further stringent COVID-19 lockdowns or any severe inventory shortages as well as there also not being any social unrest in the country, such as we experienced in July 2021.

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