Car makers have more cars than they can sell

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Vehicle manufacturers had more cars than they could sell in September, so the recent strike did little damage to the local market.

Exports, however, may have suffered from the strike. Exports at 8672 units were half of the previous month's and 43percent lower than September last year.

New car sales fell 14percent to 32432 units from August and September last year.

Bakkie, minibus and delivery van sales fell 11percent to 14739 units from one year ago.

Only heavy commercial vehicle sales remained robust, rising by 8percent, September's sales figures from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) indicate.

McCarthy Motor Holdings chairman Brand Pretorius said: "A common hypothesis might be that last month's strike in the motor components sector, which led to the temporary closure of some of the vehicle assembly plants, gave rise to widespread stock shortages that resulted in the marked decline in sales.

"However, the reality is that more than 55percent of new cars sold are fully imported and were therefore not affected by the strike. Secondly, in the majority of cases, inventory levels were quite healthy at the beginning of September, which put dealers in the position to continue trading despite the supply disruption caused by the strike," he said.

September saw Toyota Corolla retake its position as South Africa's top selling car from Volkswagen Polo thanks to its new sedan and Auris hatch models. But Volkswagen maintained its overall sales lead in passenger vehicles.

Volkswagen South Africa sales and marketing director Mike Glendinning listed three reasons for September sales being so much lower than the previous month.

"Firstly, the market in August was significantly boosted by new model launches as well as a record volume of non-dealer sales. Secondly, the prolonged component industry strike could well have created shortages of product that constrained the market. Thirdly, September had two less selling days than August," he said.

General Motors South Africa vice-president of sales and marketing Malcolm Gauld said: "The industry expects these disruptions in supply to ease through year end enabling the traditional buying by the rental and fleet sectors to buoy the market to a more stable level."