Vehicle sales in South Africa were up 10% in the first nine months of the year at 464,189 units according to data released by auto trade body Naamsa.

Although the total market slowed in September with growth of just 1.4% (to 55,097 units) versus last year, Naamsa said that was in part explained by high sales in September last year. Nevertheless, Naamsa warned that ‘tragic events at Marikana together with the current high level of industrial action in an increasing number of sectors in the economy – had dented business confidence in South Africa’.

It also said that consumer confidence had been affected.

Aggregate Industry new car sales during September maintained ‘modest’ upward momentum, 4.4% up at 39,496 units. Year to date new car sales remained 11.5% ahead of the corresponding nine months of 2011, whilst the daily selling rate during September 2012 had continued close to 6 year high levels, Naamsa said. The car market in September was again underpinned by strong demand from car rental companies with the car rental industry accounting for 18.6% of total sales.

Naamsa said that despite ‘a lower domestic economic growth environment’, there are a number of factors that will continue to support domestic sales, including historically low interest rates, ongoing improvement in vehicle affordability in real terms and higher demand for credit by households and businesses. The recent 0.5% reduction in interest rates would also support sales of consumer durable products, particularly new motor vehicles, Naamsa noted.

Naamsa said that in terms of domestic sales, the industry remained on track during 2012 for growth of around 10%.

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Looking ahead to 2013, Naamsa said that increasing inflationary pressures on the back of expected higher fuel and food prices, and the impact of rand weakness on new vehicle pricing were likely to result in a more difficult trading environment and more subdued growth in vehicle sales.

September vehicle sales in SA, top ten groups (source: Naamsa)

Toyota        10,886
VW Group      9,512
GM               6,392
Nissan           4,461
Ford             3,956
Mercedes-Benz 2,729
BMW Group      2,331
Renault           1,056
Honda              957
Chrysler            834