Figures released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) and produced in association with Response Group Trendline, show that the new vehicle market reached 31,832 units in January, 0.9% down on last year.

However, NAAMSA said that the result was 'reasonably positive' against last year's strong January, which was boosted by pre-emptive buying in anticipation of price increases.

New car sales in January totalled 22,056 units, 1.8% down on last year.

NAAMSA also noted that the momentum of vehicle exports had continued to decline through the second half of 2002, on the back of softening global markets. Nevertheless, another increase was posted over the year as a whole. Aggregate industry vehicles exports during 2002 had increased by 15.7% (2001 showed a 59.2% gain) to 125,306 units.

The organisation is projecting that South African vehicle exports will increase by 17.7% to 147,600 units in 2003.