The South African commercial vehicle market has remained strained with all vehicle classes registering year on year declines.

This is according to the latest vehicle statistics for the month of February, 2018 released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa). The association believes the lower commercial vehicle sales figures were indicative of subdued investment sentiment in the economy.

Sliding sales figures

While the February, 2018 new car market held up well, the commercial vehicle segment slid with domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses registering a fall of 1 410 vehicles or a decline of 9.6% closing on 13 212 units during February, 2018 compared to the 14 622 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

Similarly sales in the low volume medium and heavy truck segments of the industry also remained under pressure and at 574 units and 1 361 units, respectively, had recorded a fall of 89 vehicles or a decline of 13.4% in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, a decline of 232 vehicles or a sharp fall of 14.6% compared to the corresponding month last year.

New vehicle sales

The weaker trend in domestic new vehicle sales in recent months was not limited to the commercial market with all market segments, including exports, registering year on year declines. Aggregate domestic sales at 46 347 units had declined by 1 854 vehicles or 3.8% from the 48 201 vehicles sold in February last year.

February, 2018 export sales at 27 437 vehicles had registered a fall of 1 681 units or a decline of 5.8% compared to the 29 154 vehicles exported in February last year. However, exports for the first two months of the year remained 2% above the corresponding two months in 2017.

Looking ahead the association is positive that recent positive political developments as well as improved business confidence would improve the situation.

“New vehicle exports in 2018 should reflect fairly strong upward momentum on the back of improved growth in the global economy,” it said in a statement.  “An increase of around 10% in vehicle export sales volumes was possible in 2018,”it added.