Data released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) shows that the rate of decline in South Africa’s vehicle market is continuing to slow.

NAAMSA reported new vehicle sales for August at 29,667 units, a decline of 26.2% on last year. However, the organisation said that the reduced rate of decline compared with recent months reinforced an underlying ‘bottoming out trend’.

New car sales were put at 18,789 units, down 25.7% on the same month last year.

NAAMSA also pointed out that the selling rate of total new cars per day during August had improved by 9.8% versus July.

With eight months of calendar 2009 accounted for, aggregate industry new vehicle sales at 258,542 units reflected a decline of 31.6% on the same period of last year.

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Continuing low demand in South Africa’s major export markets also contributed to a record decline in the number of vehicles exported by the industry during August. Aggregate export shipments of 9,030 vehicles were two thirds down on last year.

Little or no improvement in export sales was anticipated in the short term, NAAMSA said.

NAAMSA also said that an improvement in the automotive industry’s domestic operating environment would depend on a revival in consumer spending on the back of a more favourable inflation outlook, lower interest rates and stimulatory government expenditure.