Buyers hold back because of higher interest rates and increased fuel prices

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Higher interest rates and fuel prices resulted in new car sales crashing 16percent to 29335 in November from the previous month.

The vice-president of sales and marketing for Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, Jacques Brent, said: "Fleet sales were strong during October and thus that month's figures were slightly inflated."

A price war with used car dealers was also to blame, sales and marketing director for Volkswagen of South Africa, Mike Glendinning, said.

Automakers are also suffering from last year's record sales, which now mean less demand for replacement cars this year.

Bakkie sales have soared this year thanks to the construction boom, but they slumped in November with the Christmas builders' break approaching.

Commercial vehicle sales were down 14percent to 14973.

Nevertheless, Toyota's Hilux bakkie overtook the Japanese automaker's Corolla range as South Africa's top selling vehicle.

Hilux jumped from third place in October to first in November despite its domestic sales slumping 10percent to 2953.

Toyota's Corolla range, which retook its sales lead from Volkswagen Polo in July, fell to second place with its sales falling 20percent to 2797.

The tendency of luxury car buyers to hold back in November for better resale prices in the new year resulted in Mercedes C-Class sales plummeting 58percent.

The only model to make headway last month was the recently launched Mazda2. Its sales increased by 26percent to 697.

The effect of a strike in the auto industry for two months hit Toyota Hilux exports in November, causing them to decline by nearly a third to 3806.

A company spokesman said it was battling with a component shortage following the strike, but expected to meet its export commitments this year.

Overall exports declined slightly by 274 units after October's sharp drop to 16940 units in November.