New vehicle sales in South Africa rose 7.3% year on year in November to 53,600 units according to vehicle manufacturers’ association NAAMSA.

“Year to date new car sales [including exports] remained 11.6% ahead of the corresponding 11 months of 2011,” the group said. November exports were up 39.5% or 8,088 units to 28,541.

“Despite signs of weakness in the economy, the performance of the South African automotive sector continues to be positive,” added NAAMSA which forecast growth next year of between 6-8%.

“Total domestic sales for the 11 months of calendar year 2012 remained 9.8% ahead of the corresponding 11 months in 2011,” it said.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies [pickup trucks] and minibuses fell by 1.3% or 183 units year on year to reach 13,949 units during November.

“Year to date export sales were 1.5% above the corresponding 11 months of 2011,” said Naamsa. More exports are expected in 2013 and shipments of light commercial vehicles will increase substantially.

In terms of aggregate domestic sales, the industry remained on track during 2012 for growth of around 10%.

Negative factors that could influence the new vehicle market over the medium term included a slow-down in the economy, rising inflationary pressures and the impact of exchange rate weakness.

The modest new vehicle price increases experienced for the past two years might not be sustainable going forward, NAAMSA noted.

“The outlook for 2013, at this stage, was one of modest growth in vehicle volume terms – probably in the range of 6%-8% percent,” it said.