New vehicle sales ended 2003 on a positive note, with all four segments registering gains in December 2003 compared with the same month in 2002.

New vehicle sales ended 2003 on a positive note, with all four segments registering gains in December 2003 compared with the same month in 2002.

According to Naamsa, aggregate new vehicle sales in December (26 073) reflected an improvement of 2 170 units (9,1 per cent). This was compared to the new vehicle sales of 23 903 during December 2002.

December’s new car sales has increased by 1 927 units (12,2 per cent) from the 15 813 units sold during December 2002. And at 17 740 units, 2003 has seen the highest December monthly total since 1985.

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses during December 2003 had registered a small improvement at 7 150 units of 86 units or 1,2 per cent compared to the 7 064 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month in 2002.

Sales of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the industry during December, 2003 had maintained recent upward momentum and at 464 units and 719 units, respectively, reflected an improvement of 71 units (18 per cent) in the case of medium commercials, and 86 units (13,6 per cent) in the case of heavy trucks and buses – compared to the corresponding month last year.

The December monthly medium commercial vehicle total represented the highest December sales month on record, whilst in the case of the heavy truck and bus sector – the December total of 719 truck and bus sales represented the highest December monthly total in the past 15 years (since 1988).

Reflecting on 2003, Naamsa’s January 2003 ambitious prediction that overall new vehicle sales would improve by 5 per cent proved to be conservative as a 5,3 per cent increase was achieved.

On balance, the year 2003 delivered higher than expected sales of new motor vehicles, particularly cars as well as trucks and buses. A strong second half on the back of significant interest rate reductions, strong consumer confidence, stable new vehicle prices and a modestly expanding economy had contributed growth in all four sectors exceeding corresponding 2002 totals.

Final 2003 aggregate new vehicle sales numbers were at 368 454 units, an improvement of 18 400 vehicles (5,3 per cent) compared to the 350 054 units recorded for 2002.

According to Naamsa, the 2003 total new vehicle market was the highest since 1996.

And whilst the strength of the Rand had impacted negatively on the South African Auto Industry vehicle exports in 2003, the recovery in the global economy was expected to support vehicle export business in 2004 with aggregate industry exports projected to rise to about 138 000 units for the year.

Current and future trends, together with continued strong domestic consumer demand and positive domestic investment sentiment, would serve to support demand for new motor vehicles. The market is expected to continue to grow at a healthy pace in 2004, particularly during the first half of the year and should reach levels last seen in the mid 1980’s.

In the past the South African Automotive Industry also faced the challenge of further substantial improvements in operational efficiencies. While the main focus was on cost reduction activities, aimed at lower component and vehicle production costs, this had to be done without compromising vehicle safety and quality levels. Local vehicle manufacturers would also continue to focus on vehicle and component export programmes aimed at increasing production volumes and generating economies of scale benefits.

Generally positive consumer sentiment, strong replacement demand for medium and heavy commercial vehicles, enhanced overall new vehicle affordability in real terms as a result of stable new vehicle prices and expected further reductions in interest rates – provided an environment for above average growth in new vehicle sales, which, together with an improving economy, potentially could come close to recording double digit growth in industry sales volumes in 2004.

:: Click here for complete new vehicle sales figures in South Africa during December ::

Original article from Car