South Africa's new vehicle sales plunged by 43.1% year-on-year to 24,063 units in April according to data released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (NAAMSA).

NAAMSA said that sales in all segments of the South African new vehicle market, as well as export sales, had continued to register sharp declines.

In addition to a slowing economy and depressed consumer spending, the main factor contributing to the massive decline was the large number of public holidays that fell during April, 2009.

NAAMSA reported new car sales at 15,071 units in April, a decline of 37.5% on last year. This constituted the largest year on year monthly decline in new car sales over the past twenty four years, NAAMSA said.

Vehicle sales in the first four months were 128,164 units - a decline of 36.4% over last year.

NAAMSA said that the most recent 1% reduction in interest rates and the resultant lower debt servicing costs would bring some relief to hard pressed consumers and businesses. Domestic sales of new vehicles are expected to remain under pressure in the short to medium term.

However, it 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.