The Automotive Business Council recently, as it has become a monthly national ritual, released the March 2021 new vehicle statistics and said that the expected new vehicle market turnaround has commenced as the monthly comparisons would from now on, be with the COVID-19 affected months of 2020.
Aggregate domestic sales in March 2021, at 44 217 units, reflected a substantial increase of 10 671 units, or 31,8%, from the 33 546 vehicles sold in March last year. Export sales also recorded a huge increase in March 2021 and at 40 026 units reflected a gain of 11 137 units, or 38,6%, compared to the 28 889 vehicles exported in March 2020.
naamsa CEO, Mikel Mabasa said “the turnaround in the new vehicle market has commenced during March 2021 compared to the corresponding month last year when the country lockdown restrictions resulted in the temporary suspension of vehicle production and sales towards the end of March 2020”.
“The industry is expected to start recapturing lost demand on its recovery path in 2021, considering the close correlation between new vehicle sales and the country’s anticipated annual GDP growth rate in excess of 3%. However, structural constraints, which exist in the economy, coupled with the growing debt of the country and the ongoing electricity capacity limitations that business may be faced with in the future do not bode well for a quick recovery. New vehicle sales in 2021 may also be hampered by stock shortages of some models in the coming months, caused by COVID-19 induced manufacturing supply chain disruptions, such as the current global shortage of semi-conductors, or computer chips, an important part of modern vehicles”, Mabasa said.
Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 44 217 vehicles, an estimated 37 572 units, or 85,0%, represented dealer sales, an estimated 8,7% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,7% sales to government, and 2,6% to industry corporate fleets. The March 2021 new passenger car market at 27 330 units had registered an increase of 5 187 cars, or an improvement of 23,4%, compared to the 22 143 new cars sold in March 2020. The car rental industry accounted for a solid 12,3% of car sales in March 2021.
Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 14 375 units during March 2021 had recorded an improvement of 4 941 units, or a massive increase of 52,4%, from the 9 434 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year. Sales for medium and heavy truck segments of the industry also reflected a positive performance and at 705 units and 1 807 units, respectively, showed an increase of 73 units, or 11,6% in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses a substantial gain of 470 vehicles, or an improvement of 35,2%, compared to the corresponding month last year.
The March 2021 exports sales number at 40 026 units reflected a massive increase of 11 137 vehicles or 38,6% compared to the 28 889 vehicles exported in March 2020. For the first three months of 2021 vehicle exports were now 13 019 units, or 16,8% above the corresponding period last year.
Vehicle export numbers gained significant upward momentum during the month and will be supported by the rebound in global economic growth prospects for 2021. In terms of a timeframe for a full recovery to pre-COVID-19 vehicle record export levels, much will depend on the ongoing path of the pandemic and how it is managed by the South African automotive industry’s main trading partners.