Sales of new cars in South Africa have recovered to their “best post-lockdown performance”, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).
Naamsa said that in November 2020, 39,315 units were sold. Despite this heralding “positive signs” of a rehabilitation for the car industry, sales numbers were still down 30.6% for the year-to-date.
“In essence, November sales doubled-up the performance increase over October, to close 12% down on November last year,” said Naamsa.
The positive performance in November was the fifth consecutive month of increasing overall vehicle sales in the country.
“The increase in market performance was mirrored by the ongoing growth in consumer demand, as measured by applications at WesBank.”
Getting back to normal sales levels
“Generally, we have recovered to about 70% of pre COVID-19 volumes,” said Lebogang Gaoaketse, Head of Marketing and Communication at WesBank Vehicle and Asset Finance.
“While it would be unrealistic to expect the market to return to 100% in the short to medium-term, the industry has adapted quickly to the new levels of demand to remain sustainable and continue contributing towards economic recovery.”
Looking at specific vehicle segments, passenger car sales came in at 25,707 units – which is 18.1% lower than in November 2019.
“This is 5,696 units less than November last year and 989 units less than last month, potentially indicating shifts in the market in terms of demand,” said Naamsa.
The light commercial vehicle segment saw growth on both fronts, however, to 11,243 unit sales.
This represents a 5.3% growth compared to October, and a 2.8% increase compared to November last year.
WesBank CEO Chris de Kock said a shift in demand for certain vehicles has also been identified – and can be attributed to two trends.
“Consumers are clearly seeking to reduce their monthly instalment by buying a more affordable vehicle. The evidence of this can be seen in the market growth of the new car segment offering lower priced vehicles, where customers seem willing to substitute high profile brands for more practical and affordable options.”
“The other trend is the shift towards the used car market, again driven mostly by the buydown effect,” said De Kock.
Toyota Hilux and Fortuner standout performers
Two of the top sales performers in November were the Hilux and Fortuner, according to Toyota South Africa.
The Toyota Fortuner sold 1,488 units in November, following a refresh of the model line-up.
“The country’s favourite bakkie – the Hilux – posted almost double that of the Fortuner figures, with 2,913 vehicles sold in November, thereby claiming the spot for the best-selling model in the country last month,” said Toyota.
Overall sales were also up for Toyota compared to November 2019, with 9,441 units sold. This was an increase of 1.3% compared to last year.
“The company’s light commercial vehicle segment continued its strong run, posting 4,782 units – a 42.5% market share,” said the company.
Toyota’s passenger vehicle segment saw sales of 4,470 units, which they said accounted for 17.4% of the local market.
“In addition, the Starlet posted 947 units, while the Etios and RAV4 posted 382 and 308 units apiece. It was also a good month for Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus – courtesy of the NX (14), UX (11), and LX (11).”