New vehicle sales in South Africa slumped in August under the weight of challenging market conditions and the impact of a weaker currency.

Vehicle sales were down 8.2% year-on-year to 51,055 units in August, according to data issued by South African automotive trade association, NAAMSA. Sales of new cars in August reached 34,885 units, a drop of 7.8% on last year.

The slowing new car market was despite attractive incentive packages on offer by most automotive companies. NAAMSA noted that intense competition in the increasingly difficult trading environment continued to put pressure on margins throughout the domestic automotive value chain.

However, automotive industry vehicle production remained on a relatively firm footing and the higher new vehicle export sales would continue to support the industry’s manufacturing output and contribute positively to South Africa’s balance of payments, NAAMSA said. New vehicle exports at 28,069 units during August, were up 12.3% on the same month last year.

“Vehicle exports for 2015 remained on target to improve, in annual terms, by about 20% to a projected industry record export number of about 330,000 for the year (2014: 276,873 export units)," NAAMSA said.

Vehicle manufacturers with substantial export sales were cushioned to some extent against the impact of the weaker exchange rate.