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June new vehicle sales - gloom and doom continues


THE domestic South African new vehicle market is running the risk of eventually being overtaken by the number of vehicles exported from our shores.

One would have thought that we are back in the month of April with poor sales almost a standard feature of that month. Sadly, the latest Naamsa figures are for June and the downward slide continues.

New vehicle sales at 50 251 are down 4.8 percent from the June 2014 figures. It was also the passenger car category that suffered the most with total sales of 33 035 units reflecting a drop of 2 332 units (6.6 percent) compared to 2014. The industry should be especially concerned that this poor showing comes on the back of second quarter incentive packages offered by most automotive companies. In addition, margins are coming under pressure and the swing towards pre-owned seems to be continuing.

The light commercial division, (bakkies in Safrican speak), fared marginally better, selling 14 756 units - a modest improvement of 223 units or a gain of 2.3 percent.

But it's in the Top Ten ratings that things really started to look interesting with a number of manufacturers either moving up or down the rankings, and with a newcomer to the rankings - Mazda - replacing Honda and Chrysler.

Ichi ban, (Japanese for number one), still describes Toyota in its customary role with total sales of 9 712 units - almost 1 700 units better than in May. Paradoxically, the now fairly middle aged Hilux still has enough sales momentum to be the runner-up top seller (2 912), pushing Volkswagen's Polo Vivo (2 134) into third place.

Toyota's other successes include excellent sales for Corolla/Auris/Quest (1 771), Fortuner (1 353), while RAV (321) has been given a sharp sales lesson by its direct competition, the Ford Kuga (359 units).

Talking of Ford… in an excellent performance in an otherwise bleak month, this Pretoria-based manufacturer moves into second place at the expense of traditional runners-up, Volkswagen. Once again, the increasingly popular Ford Ranger (3 019) is South Africa's best seller. Other Ford achievers include Fiesta (1 217), Figo (772) and EcoSport (740). Ford's total for June was 7 115 - an improvement of almost 400 units.

Volkswagen (6 934) must be hurting at the idea of losing out to Ford by selling some 600 fewer vehicles than in May. Had it not been for this mini disaster, Volkswagen would comfortably have remained in second place. The Uitenhage-based company's results are almost always due to its passenger cars (including the Audi cousins). The Polo Vivo (2 134) was VW's overall best seller, while the Polo (1 649), Golf 7 (557) and Audi A3 (557) also did not let the side down.

June also saw GM/Isuzu Trucks (5 024) maintain its 4th place with some good showings from Isuzu KB (1 376), Chev Utility (1 468) and its Opel range of Mokka (191), Corsa (277) and Adam (169) all chipping with a minor contribution from Astra (38) proving a neat 531 total for the brand.

The non-reporting AMH Group seems to have accepted that 4th is a lost cause, and has settled in 5th spot on the Top Ten with 4 028 total sales.

Nissan (3 997), remains in its usual 6th place, having dropped its overall figures by some 128 units. Nissan's best sellers were X-Trail (307), Qashqai (226), Datsun GO (300) and NP300 Hardbody on 520 sales. However, Nissan's crown is still worn by its little NP200 (1 977), which continues to outsell the Chev Utility.

The seventh spot is taken up by Mercedes-Benz, which also does not report on individual sales. Its total of 2 731 is more than 500 up on its figures for May and comes at the expense of 8th-placed BMW which, likewise, improved on its May figures, by selling 2 242 cars - 193 more than in May.

But it's in the battle for the last two places in the Top Ten category that things start getting interesting.

Renault will rejoice at the fact that it not only managed to increase its May figures of 1 510 sales to an excellent 2 000 units sold, but it is also eyeing position number eight where BMW currently sits. And, bringing up the rear but making it into the Top Ten listings for the first time, Mazda (770) will be grateful for strong showings by CX-5 (240), Mazda3 (234), while its BT-50 bakkie likewise performed well with 134 sales.

Spare a thought for Honda, which slid from 651 in May to a rather sad 527 - far removed from the glory days when it regularly reached the thousand sales mark. Even Honda's popular CR-V (63) is being outsold by the Mitsubishi ASX (80).

In the niche market, Porsche (129) held steady with significant sales improvements expected once the new Pretoria-based dealership is firing on all cylinders.

Jaguar/Land Rover (529) bases its success on the newly launched Discovery Sport (103), Range Rover Sport (104) and Discovery 4 (125). The company will be concerned, however, that its Jaguar cars (44) are being outsold by the likes of Nissan's Infiniti (53) and Toyota's Lexus range (99).  However, all is not lost in the über-luxury market with Ferrari managing to find homes for eight of its cars.

Overall, the industry has had a poor month in terms of domestic sales, with the exception of the export industry where the big players, Ford (6 159), BMW (5 704), Volkswagen Group (5 361), and Toyota (4 390) dispersed the gloom to some extent.

Article written by Bernard K Hellberg Snr
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