Relief as new vehicle sales show promise

THERE is a glimmer of hope for the motor industry with the rate of decline in new car sales slowing down in June.

This follows the disastrous months of April and May. Manufacturers and distributors, breathing a small sigh of relief, hope that sales volumes will return to levels reached at the beginning of the year.

The rate of decline for June has also raised hopes that the market will bottom out in the coming months, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), which released its figures yesterday.

Manufacturer Ford said it moved 4172 more vehicles last month than during May and 6841 more than in April.

In fact, new vehicle sales in June totalled 33124, a decline of 22,6percent on the same month last year.

Sales for the first six months, at 190245, were 33,8percent lower than last year.

This was a marginal improvement on the 35,8percent experienced in the first five months to May.

Export sales, though, were down sharply in June by 52,5percent at 11760, while the year-to-date figure was down 36percent.

But all sectors of the motor industry, from manufacturing to retail to automotive parts, are experiencing sustainability problems.

And recovery would depend on a revival of consumer spending following recent interest rate cuts and continued government spending.

Exports would only recover once there was a recovery in global markets, which is unlikely to occur until the end of next year or even in 2011, said Naamsa.

Car sales, including those of Associated Motor Holdings, were 17,6percent lower than in June last year at 19035, while light commercials (LCVs) lost 25,1percent on last June with a fall to 10269.

Volumes in the medium truck and heavy truck sectors shed 53,7percent and 51,4percent respectively in June as compared with last year.

The largest selling make of car was the Toyota Corolla range, followed by the Volkswagen Polo/Classic and the Mercedes Benz C-Class.

Toyota was again the largest seller in the LCVs range, ahead of the Opel Corsa Utility and the Isuzu KB.