Sales hit rock bottom

Don Robertson

Don Robertson

The motor industry has turned into a "monster" with the decline in passenger car sales in April reflecting their lowest level in 24 years and the lowest since December 2003.

It was not only the large number of public holidays in April that affected sales as volumes sold each day were down on last year's figure.

"Consumer confidence is still at low levels and deteriorating as can be seen in the declining trend of new vehicle finance applications received, which were 10percent down month on month," said Marcel de Klerk, managing executive of Absa Vehicle and Asset Finance.

But the ever optimistic industry believes that with the latest interest rate reduction and the benefit of continued government infrastructural spending, there should be some support to the domestic market in the second half of the year.

"I believe we have now reached the lowest point in terms of monthly sales, and I am confident that we will see a gradual improvement going forward," said Brand Pretorius, chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings.

The performance of locally manufactured export sales of fully built-up vehicles suffered even more with sales falling by 49,1percent to 11479 in April from 22536 in the same month last year.

Export sales are expected to fall even further by the end of the year, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa).

There were some positive signs, however, regarding a return of some confidence to international financial markets.

Exports continued to have a beneficial effect on vehicle manufactures. BMW, for instance, sold more than three times the number of 3-Series cars overseas, Mercedes-Benz a similar multiple of C-Class cars and Toyota almost double the number of Hilux bakkies.