Passenger car sales in South Africa are expected to increase by almost 10% this year to around 428,000 vehicles after a dismal 2009.

Speaking at a conference in Pretoria, Jeff Osbourne, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Association, said that this would bring the market back to 2003 sales levels.

Osborne said 2010 passenger car sales were expected to jump 9.5% with sales of light commercial vehicles to gain 6%, medium trucks 4% and heavy-duty trucks 7%.

He added that the factors working against bigger growth in the wake of the recession included the fact that 2.25m new cars were sold in South Africa during the boom period between 2003 and 2008, meaning that 40% of the country’s car parc is “relatively new”.

He added:” The modern car is much more reliable, and these days 100 000 km on the clock count as low mileage.”

Osborne also anticipated relatively low June and July vehicle sales owing to “World Cup disruptions”.

Vehicle sales for 2009 as a whole declined by 25.9% over the previous year to stand at 395,230 units, underlining the severe impact of the economic recession being experienced in South Africa. At the 2006 peak, South Africa’s vehicle market hit 714,315 units.

The 2009 car market was down by 21.6% to 258,132 units.