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April new vehicle sales down the tubes


IN TERMS of the latest sales figures released by the National Association for the Automobile Industry of SA (Naamsa), the total new vehicle sales of 44 503 for April this year were slightly down on the 46 016 vehicles sold in April last year.

The new passenger car market, at 30 184 units, reflected a decline of 594 units and intense competition in a tough trading environment saw several importers/manufacturers offering incentive packages to stimulate sales.

In the Top Ten category, Toyota (7 916) again leads the pack, but with a dramatic drop in sales of 3 131 units, while also suffering the humiliation of seeing its regular top seller - Hilux - being thrashed in the sales race to the tune of 2 105 sales, against Ford Ranger's brilliant 3 095 units sold. Not only is this the second time that Ford has broken the 3 000 barrier, this achievement gives Ford the title of overall top seller for the month - beating such regular winners as Volkswagen's Polo (2 012).

Despite this being one of the worst months on record for Toyota, South Africa's Number One still saw excellent results from Corolla/Auris/Quest (1 758), Etios (1 248) and Fortuner (488). Overall, Toyota's sales figures dropped by a massive 3 131 units.

Volkswagen, still in second place on 8 361 sales, also took some strain, selling 1 204 units fewer than in March. Good performances for the Uitenhage-based company were provided by Polo Vivo (1 729), Golf 7 (647), as well as the Audi A4 (403) and the Audi A3 (345).

Pretoria-based Ford continues to occupy third place with an excellent showing of 6 889 sales - 397 fewer than in March this year.

Relying heavily on the Ranger (mentioned earlier), the Fiesta (922), EcoSport (837) and Figo (835) all sold well. Even the Kuga (291) did well but still lost out to Toyota's RAV (368).

The non-disclosing AMH also stayed in its traditional 4th place with total sales of 4 370 units - a drop of 1 014 compared to the sales figures for March.

Port Elizabeth-based GM/Isuzu Trucks recorded 4 169 sales, some 934 fewer than in March. For GM, Cruze (246), Spark (234) and the entire Opel range (563) with the Corsa (331) leading the charge were the stars of the show. The recently launched Mokka also did quite well with 113 units finding new homes. Emphasising the reality that South Africa is bakkie territory, GM's Chev Utility (1 352) and Isuzu KB (988) performed well, with the Chev Ute outselling Nissan's NP200 (1 034).

Sixth place, as usual, belongs to Nissan, which also relied heavily on its light commercials to post a disappointing total of 3 204 sales - 1 580 fewer than the previous month. Nissan's NP300 hard body (498) and Navara (94), helped to bolster the figures. In its passenger car division, Datsun GO (517), X-Trail (266) and Qashqai (232) didn't let the side down.

The leader in the "affordable" German luxury division, BMW, managed to cling to 7th spot with 1 956 local sales - a decline of 460 units. BMW's stars were 3-Series (816), 2-Series (175), 4-Series (167), and the popular X5 (129).

Now in the process of getting used to being walloped by BMW, Stuttgart-based rival Mercedes-Benz also dipped under the 2 000 unit mark (1 919), only 232 fewer than in the previous month.

Mercedes-Benz also does not disclose individual model sales, so we will never know who has come out on top in the C-Class/3-Series battle.

Moving up one place in the Top Ten ranking to 9th, Renault (1 050) also lost some ground by selling 145 units fewer than in March. For the French car maker, the Clio IV (354) and Sandero II (443) did well, while Duster (194) also managed triple figures.

Having swopped places with Renault, Honda will be saddened by its 995 units sold - 346 fewer than in the previous month. Despite this setback, Honda Jazz (260), Ballade (240), and CR-V (204) recorded fairly decent figures.

Of the manufacturers/importers falling outside the Top Ten rankings, Mazda (579) did well, pushing Chrysler SA down the rankings. Jaguar/Land Rover also did reasonably well, but it should be kept in mind that the entire Jaguar passenger car range only convinced 46 individuals to buy its vehicles. This is 30 less than Mitsubishi Pajero, which went to 76 new owners. Mitsubishi's ASX, likewise, did reasonably well with 117 sales.

South Africa's three-in-a-row Car of the Year winning brand - Porsche - is, like Mitsubishi, one of the few brands to have improved their sales compared with the previous month. Porsche improved its sales results from 134 units to an impressive 160, mainly due to Cayenne (54), and Macan on 40 units sold.

Spare a thought for brands such as Volvo Cars (189), Subaru (83) and even Suzuki Auto (424), which has been overtaken by Mitsubishi.

Last word

Sales conditions will not improve over the medium term. Increasingly difficult new credit control regulations have led to an increase of 30 percent potential transactions, which have been declined by the banks. It would seem that Big Brother regime was increasing its grip on society deciding in true Nanny State fashion what's good for us, the consumer.


Article written by Bernard K Hellberg Snr
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