Car sales show first signs of recovery

THE South African car market is showing its first signs of recovery since the onset of the global economic downturn.

According to the latest results released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) 167 more new vehicles were sold in October than September.

While this was 12,5% down from October last year, it was the slowest monthly decline this year.

In the first three quarters of 2009 car sales shrunk by 28,8% compared with the previous corresponding period.

Jacques Brent, vice president of sales and marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, said yesterday: "October was one of the best performing months this year in terms of passenger car sales and the beginning of some real indication that the market has settled at or near the bottom."

Passenger car sales were driven largely by rental sales and Brent said the rental market was largely driven by preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and would have declined by around 20% were it not for the the tournament.

Brand Pretorius, chief executive of McCarthy Limited, said despite the apparent recovery of the car market the industry was "not out of the woods yet".

Top performing new passenger vehicles in October were: Toyota Corolla (1559), VW Polo (1041), Mercedes C-Class (1010), VW CitiGolf (989) and BMW 3-Series (832).