Naamsa reported on Thursday that 41 150 new vehicles were sold in South Africa last month. The period marked the best overall August sales month on record, the association said.

:: Click here for August's complete new vehicle sales figures ::

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) reported on Thursday that 41 150 new vehicles were sold in South Africa last month. The period marked the best overall August sales month on record, the association said.

Aggregate new vehicle sales in August were 6 508 vehicles (18,8 per cent) higher than in the corresponding month last year. Year to date aggregate new vehicle sales were just under 19 per cent ahead of the overall sales levels for the same period last year.

Naamsa said “the amazing strength in new car sales in recent months” continued in August. New car sales (27 926 units) were 21,6 per cent better compared with the 22 967 sold during the same period last year. August new car sales were also 1 295 vehicles (4,8 per cent) higher than the figure sold during the previous month of July (26 631).

On a year to date basis, new car sales were 19,7 per cent ahead of corresponding period in 2003. The latest sales figures are the highest single monthly new car sales total since June 1984.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses in August (11 266 units) were 1 113 vehicles (10,9 per cent) compared with the 10 153 sold during the corresponding period last year. The sales figures also represented an increase of 586 units (5,5 per cent) over July in this category. On a year to date basis, new light commercial vehicle sales were 15,6 per cent ahead of sales recorded during the same period last year.

Sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the industry during August registered gains and at 855 units and 1 103 units, respectively, reflected an improvement of 244 units (39,9 per cent), in the case of medium commercials, and 192 units (21 per cent) in the case of heavy commercial vehicles and buses – compared with the corresponding month last year. On a year to date basis, sales of medium commercial vehicles were ahead by 37 per cent and heavy trucks and buses by 21,9 per cent compared with the sales levels during the first eight months of 2003.

Naamsa said the motor industry was expected to record above average, near-record growth in sales volumes during 2004. “Favourable macro economic conditions, strong business and consumer confidence, the accommodative monetary and fiscal environment and, improved overall affordability, in terms of vehicle purchases and ownership, provided an environment conducive to continuing strength in new vehicle sales,” a spokesman said.

:: Click here for August's complete new vehicle sales figures ::

Nissan sales and marketing director, Mike Whitfield, said: "Our new Micra has been very well received, with 628 units sold since launch. Together with continued good sales for the Almera, X-TRAIL and Hardbody, it is contributing to increased consumer demand for our products.

Bill Stephens, general manager of communications for Volkswagen, commented: "Initial sales of the new fifth generation Golf in South Africa are extremely encouraging with in excess of 1 300 units sold in August, its début month."

"The new Golf export programme is well under way with over 2 000 units exported in August alone to countries in the Asia Pacific region - in particular Japan and Australia," Stephens added.

According to Brand Pretorius, chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings, August’s optimistic sales can mainly be attributed to higher levels of economic activity and the current high level of business and consumer confidence. "Enhanced vehicle affordability and additional stimulation provided by major new product launches, also contributed to the increase in vehicle sales," he said.

Pretorius also noted that new vehicle prices have remained stable for the past 18 months. "There is no doubt that, although vehicle list prices haven't come down during this period, some value is being transferred to customers in the form of enhanced specification levels at no cost to them.

“Due to factors such as extended warrantees and service plans at no charge, as well as the reduced cost of financing resulting from a high incidence of subsidised interest rates and special discounts, the cost of vehicle ownership is being reduced."

"From a retailer's perspective, the only concerning development is the softening in demand for used vehicles," Pretorius said. "Inventory levels are building up and trade-in prices are being adjusted downwards in order to effect alignment between stand-in values of dealers' inventory and market related prices."

Pretorius added that should this situation get any worse, the market's ability to absorb more trade-ins will be undermined, which in turn could slow down new vehicle sales.

Malcolm Gauld, GMSA's sales and marketing director, said: "The new Isuzu KB saw sales well ahead of its predecessor with 1 630 units for August despite stock shortages while building sufficient inventory at dealer level.

“The new Corsa Utility had a strong entrance into the market even though it only reached dealers in the last week of the month. Both these new models feature in a market segment that was slow out of the blocks early in the year but has recovered well thus far.”

Original article from Car