New vehicle sales in South Africa declined by 30.3% year-on-year in March to 36,331 units as the sector suffered hard times in line with a depressed South African economy.
South Africa's National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) said that all segments of the South African new vehicle market, as well as export sales, had registered sharp declines compared to the corresponding month last year - despite the fact that sales during March last year represented a relatively low base on account of the Easter holidays during that month.
NAAMSA reported new car sales at 21,282 units in March - a 23.4% decline on last year. It was the lowest new car sales for the month of March in the past six years.
Exports of South African manufactured vehicles also fell in March - by 22% to 17,896 units. The slowdown in South Africa's major export markets (Eurozone, Japan and the United States) would translate into further declines in the number of vehicles exported by the industry during calendar 2009, NAAMSA said.

Nevertheless, there was a not of optimism regarding the outlook. NAAMSA said that a revival in consumer expenditure on the back of lower interest rates, together with stimulatory government spending, should start to lend support to the domestic market during the second half of the year.