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Naamsa: vehicle sales down 17% in April, but so far better than 2020

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The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) reported that new vehicle sales statistics for the month of April 2021 showed a decline of 7 649 units from the 43 428 vehicles sold during March, for a total of 35 779 units sold.

The association usually compares a month with the corresponding month of the previous year but said that due to the lockdown period that had then just been implemented, it would have been meaningless to compare the 574 unit sales total of April 2020 with April 2021. That’s why the stats were instead compared to those registered in March.

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Read: Spluttering start for SA’s 2021 new vehicle sales

Naamsa says we were all busy taking advantage of long weekends

According to Naamsa CEO Mikel Mabasa, the dense spread of public holidays and the fewer days to sell negatively impacted sales and exports during April compared to March. However, the first four months of the year overall are still 28.3 % above the same period in 2020.

Of the total 35 779 vehicles sold, 31 482 were contributed by dealer sales, with 7.5% coming from the rental industry, 2.4% from sales to government, and 2.1 % to industry corporate fleets.

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Sales dip across passenger and commercial vehicles

According to Naamsa, there were 22 911 passenger cars sold in April, a decline of 12 619, while the light commercial segment that consists of bakkies and mini-buses saw a 24.3 % decline. Even the medium and heavy commercial vehicle segments saw double-digit decreases, at 24,2% and 17,5% respectively.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, eventually

The association says that there are indications that the industry is on a slight upswing. There’s renewed interest and activity in the rental market as the lockdown restrictions are revised, the interest rate remains low, lockdown restrictions are gradually easing, and the five subcomponents of the ABSA Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) are tracking positively for the first time since early 2012.

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Naamsa believes that these are generally favourable for supporting business and consumer behaviour and therefore the new vehicle market in 2021. However, the after-effect of COVID-19 lockdowns is still being felt, such as the worldwide shortage of computer chips that delayed everything from gaming consoles to new vehicles rolling off the production line.

Importantly to take note of is that, although the new vehicle market in 2021 is expected to rebound substantially compared to 2020, aggregate new vehicle sales in 2020 dropped back to the level of 18 years ago and a recovery to the pre-COVID-19 level would take at least three years.

– Naamsa

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