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New vehicle sales - the struggle continues


With passenger car sales slowing down, and bakkie sales increasing gradually, the shift towards light commercials continues unabated

Following a relatively poor April, the motor vehicle industry was holding its collective breath for a Merry Month of May with sales picking up substantially.  It was not to be, and passenger car sales declined by 5.4 % for a total of 31,201, compared to 32.974 in April 2014.

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, however, was provided by the light commercial section with 14,182 sales for a 2.2 % improvement over 2014. Note, also, that more **bakkies** were sold than passenger cars.

In the Top Ten rankings, Toyota continued to dominate with total sales of 8,043 units - slightly up from April's 7,916. Toyota’s Hilux, once again, was trounced by Ford's Ranger (2,608/3,039) but Corolla/Auris/Quest (1,400), Etios (971), and Fortuner (564) all contributed strongly.

Second-placed Volkswagen (7,564) maintained its good showing with Polo (1,879) and Polo Vivo (1,876) leading the charge. Golf 7 (621) performed well, while Audi, as part of the Volkswagen Group, did equally well with A4 on 401, and A3 on 489 units sold. Even the Amarok (345) picked up nicely, but still has some way to go.

Third-placed Ford (6,713) relied on its overall top selling Ranger to provide the numbers - ably assisted by EcoSport (980), Fiesta (845), and Figo (782), while Kuga (259) continues to lag behind arch-rival RAV (416).

There was a surprise in the Top Ten listings when GM/Isuzu (4,696) moved up a notch at the expense of Associated Motor Holdings (4,295). GM's good showing was made possible by its light commercial division with Isuzu KB (1,255) and Chev Utility (1,228) bringing home the bacon. Noteworthy, also, that GM's Opel brand is gaining increased acceptance with total sales of 493 units spread over increasingly popular models such as Mokka (203), and Adam (88).

The non-disclosing AMH Group (4,295) moved down a notch into fifth - shedding some 500 sales, while Nissan now also has its sights set on AMH with a strong showing of 4,125 sales to bring it within range of its Korean rivals.

Nissan's good results - and traditional 6th place - comes compliments of NP200 (1,727), NP300 Hardbody (912), and Datsun GO (406), while the in-house sales battle between X-Trail (227) and Qashqai (226) continues unabated.

There was another surprise in the battle for 7th place when non-disclosing Mercedes-Benz (2,216) managed to push arch-rival BMW (2.025) down a notch. BMW continues to rely heavily on its regular top performing 3-Series (686), 1-Series (316), and 2-Series (203) to remain in the Top Ten.

Taking 9th spot with a strong showing, Renault (1,510) improved dramatically from its rather lethargic performance in April (1,050). Relying strongly on post-launch hype, the Captur (425) certainly captured the attention of buyers, while Sandero ll (410), Duster (365), and Clio IV (284) likewise provided the numbers.

Surprisingly, there's a new name in the Top Ten rankings. Chrysler (692) also made full use of launch publicity around the Renegade (210) to oust lethargic Honda. The only other Chrysler model to reach three figures, Grand Cherokee, recorded 117 sales.

Spare a thought for Honda which slipped from 995 sales in April to a rather sad 651 in May. A sign of the times is that Honda's expensive CR-V (68) was comprehensively outsold by Mitsubishi's excellent ASX on 85 sales.

Of the manufacturers which fell outside the Top Ten, Mazda SA (631) is also breathing down Honda's neck, while Suzuki Auto also had a good month, recording 596 sales - slightly ahead of Jaguar/Land Rover (527). The Group's brilliant new Discovery Sport (183) was the star of the show - also a consequence of extensive post-launch marketing exposure. In terms of passenger cars, Jaguar (all models) continues to struggle with total sales of 48. Toyota's luxury Lexus division, on the other hand, managed to sell 68 vehicles, while Nissan's Infiniti division only managed 26 sales.

Iconic German car maker - and three-in-a-row SA Car of the Year winner -Porsche, had a fair, if not great month, selling 135 cars. This was slightly down on the 160 cars sold in April this year.

Porsche, however, will certainly start showing even better results when the recently opened new dealership in Pretoria starts expanding its footprint.

Despite the gloom and doom of lower domestic sales, the export programme is going full steam ahead with exports at 33,411 units - a massive increase of 114.2 % over the May 2014 total of 15,595.

Article written by Bernard K Hellberg Snr
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