Corolla exports boost car sales

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

The wreckage in vehicle sales does not look too bad if exports are added to domestic sales.

A 57percent jump in exports lifted total locally manufactured vehicle sales in May to 62734, just six percent down from May last year despite a 28percent crash in domestic new car sales.

Nearly all of this export wheelie came from the new Toyota Corolla plant, which started operating in March.

Of the 8381 more vehicles exported this May than that month last year, 5112 or 61percent were Corollas from the new factory near Durban.

Corollas overtook Toyota's Hilux range of bakkies as South Africa's biggest manufactured export in May, according to National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa data released yesterday.

A company spokesperson said Toyota planned to export equal numbers of Corollas and Hiluxes, so bakkies were still expected to beat sedans over some months.

Toyota's combined exports were 10140 units in May, accounting for 44percent of all vehicles shipped from South Africa last month.

New minibus regulations requiring taxi drivers to replace their vehicles with 14 seater taxis saw Toyota's Quantum jump to South Africa's third best selling vehicle.

Toyota discontinued Hi-Ace production in December because it did not meet the new requirements, and launched a Quantum model called "Ses'fikile" to maintain its popularity among minibus taxi operators.