February was a very good month for car export sales

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Record vehicle exports and truck sales in February helped cushion a 15percent crash in new car sales from a year ago.

The Reserve Bank's four 0,5percent interest rate increases along with tougher vehicle financing rules introduced by the National Credit Act saw new car sales fall nearly 15percent to 27505 vehicles from February last year.

The weakening rand helped vehicle export sales hit 20631 units to make February the best performing export month on record, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) reported yesterday.

Exports grew 23percent from the 16736 vehicles exported during the corresponding month last year.

The bestseller in both the domestic and export markets was Toyota's Hilux bakkie. Toyota exported a record 5193 bakkies in February.

Naamsa expects exports to continue breaking records this year.

Luxury car makers made up for some of the domestic market's woes through exports.

BMW's 3-Series was February's second biggest export at 3710 units, followed by Volkswagen's Golf and Jetta A5 with 2935, and the Mercedes C-Class fourth with 2740.

Heavy truck and bus sales, which started the year on a record, thanks to governments infrastructure spending, continued their strong growth.

General Motors' overall sales overtook Volkswagen's, making it the country's second biggest vehicle maker behind Toyota.