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Reflecting on the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of November 2020 naamsa said that, although the gradual monthly gains in sales growth by volume in the new vehicle market continued during the month, the year-to-date situation remained depressed. Aggregate domestic sales at 39 315 units reflected a decline of 5 355 units, or 12,0%, from the 44 670 vehicles sold in November last year. The trend was mirrored by export sales at 31 966 units which also declined by 2 622 units, or 7,6%, compared to the 34 588 vehicles exported in November 2019.
Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 39 315 vehicles, an estimated 33 547 units, or 85,3%, represented dealer sales, an estimated 8,0% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,9% sales to government, and 2,8% to industry corporate fleets.
The November 2020 new passenger car market at 25 707 units had registered a decline of 5 696 cars, or a fall of 18,1%, compared to the 31 403 new cars sold in November last year. The car rental industry accounted for a sound 11,6% of car sales in November 2020. Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 11 243 units during November had recorded a welcomed increase of 567 units, or a gain of 5,3%, from the 10 676 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.
Sales for medium and heavy truck segments of the industry reflected a weak performance and at 664 units and 1 701 units, respectively, showed a decline of 70 vehicles, or a fall of 9,5%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses a decline of 156 vehicles, or a fall of 8,4%, compared to the corresponding month last year.
The November 2020 the exports sales number at 31 966 units represented a decline of 2 622 vehicles or 7,6% compared to the 34 588 vehicles exported in 2019. The performance for the year to date now reflected a fall of 122 987 vehicles, or 32,9% compared to the level of the same period last year.
A positive development is the steady small recovery gains in the new-vehicle market over recent months, however, real growth is still far away. The economic scars of the COVID-19 pandemic are extreme and the domestic as well as global economic environment would remain uncertain and volatile over at least the next six months until safe and effective coronavirus vaccines are available and rolled out in South Africa and around the world. With low inflation, marketing incentives available on new vehicles as well as interest rates expected to remain low for quite some time, it is actually a good time to purchase a new vehicle. However, consumer behaviour changes and short-term budget pressures could result in longer-term developments on the back of protracted COVID-19 concerns as consumers might have less need for mobility, despite improved new vehicle affordability.
Notwithstanding a solid monthly performance, exports of South African manufactured vehicles remained in arrears as a second-wave lockdown in major markets impact on consumer behaviour and demand. Vehicle exports are important to the viability of the domestic automotive industry. In 2019, the record 387 125 left- and right-hand drive vehicles exported supported record vehicle production of 631 983 vehicles as well as employment gains in the vehicle manufacturing side of the industry. For the year to date, vehicle exports, however, are still 32,9% below the level of the same period last year.