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Business & Technology
Mar 2 2012 4:13PM
 
Car sales remain buoyant:  Naamsa
In January, Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA) said it would not report its detailed sales data for the time being, after a global directive from its parent company, Daimler AG. Picture: Gallo Images
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New vehicle sales showed modest gains this month, compared to strong growth in January, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) said on Friday.

Total industry sales for 2012 were likely to record modest growth, it said in a statement.

Naamsa said several factors continue to support the domestic market.

These included consumers' improved financial position, relatively low interest rates, continuing improvement in real vehicle affordability, a competitive trading environment and the introduction of new models.

"As a result, domestic sales are expected to continue to reflect growth, but at a relatively subdued rate," it said.

Aggregate industry sales improved by 6,4% to 52,356 vehicles, from 49,197 units in February last year.

In January, Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA) said it would not report its detailed sales data for the time being, after a global directive from its parent company, Daimler AG.

MBSA would, however, still provide a single total sales number for passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

Naamsa said the absence of detailed figures from MBSA made year-on-year segment comparisons difficult.

Total commercial vehicle sales for February 2012 improved by 5,7% to 15,999 units, compared to 14,143 units in February last year.

But South African vehicle exports, including MBSA, dropped by 10% during the month to 22,630 units, compared to February 2011.

Industry export sales were expected to improve from April, as the Ford global compact vehicle export programme and the new BMW 3 series export volumes were ramped up, Naamsa said.

But it added that the industry's export performance would be affected by global economic conditions.

Vehicle exports into Europe were likely to soften as a result of the recession and the debt crisis in the Euro zone.

"This could be offset by higher export volumes to African countries," Naamsa said.

Vehicle exports for the year were forecast to grow by 10% to just over 300,000 units.

Wesbank spokesman Chris de Kock said consumers were re-entering the vehicle market at a much faster pace than before.

He said the average vehicle was being replaced after 39 months, rather than after 43 months, as was the case a year ago.

"The continued low interest rate environment is also supporting new vehicle sales, with interest rates expected to remain at current levels for the foreseeable future," he said.

Wesbank had seen credit applications increase by 6,2% in February, compared to the same period a year ago.

He said Wesbank expected single-digit growth throughout the year. -Sapa

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