Car sales suffer

Lihle Z Mtshali

Lihle Z Mtshali

Last month's car sales are expected to have been no better than January's record 32,3percent drop.

The National Association of Automotive Manufacturers of SA releases vehicle sales figures for February tomorrow.

Economists say recovery is only expected this month, which generally manifests in an improvement in passenger car sales. Even then, recovery will only be marginal.

Standard Bank economists said on Friday: "Despite a notable decline in interest rates in February and the signal of intent to cut rates further in the year, we don't expect this to have led to any rush of consumers to the showroom floors.

"In the face of deteriorating global economic performances and brewing uncertainties over the impact on South Africa, sales of new passenger cars may remain lacklustre."

Brand Pretorius, executive chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings, said he expected February sales to be similar to January. "We expect once again a decline of close to 30percent on the corresponding period. Demand from the fleet sector remains rather depressed because most companies are not renewing their fleet," he said.

"As far as private customers go, the reason we are not making major sales is because of the inability of customers to get credit," said Pretorius.

He said the only thing that would bolster the market was distress selling - the abundance of special offers available to consumers. "We are pulling people into the market because we can offer very attractive deals. It's a buyers' market," he said.