New vehicle sales registered substantial gains in the first month of the year, growing by 14.1% compared to the 48 202 vehicles sold in January last year, said the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA).
This followed on the positive sales performance seen throughout 2012.
On Monday, Naamsa said that all major segments recorded double digit year-on-year growth, with new cars growing by 12.3%; light commercials by 20%; medium commercials by 10.6; heavy trucks by 30% and extra heavy trucks growing by 16.6%.
Export sales in January (at 17 399 vehicles) reflected an improvement of 5 794 vehicles or a gain of 49.9% compared to the 11 605 vehicles exported in January 2012.
The association noted that continued strong demand by the car rental industry accounted for 22.5% of total new car sales during the month. This supported the market in January 2013.
“Recent exchange rate weakness would have contributed to pre-emptive buying by consumers to avoid higher than expected new vehicle prices,” it said.
Nedbank economists said that the market has performed relatively well against the backdrop of weak momentum in the overall economy.
“Overall, economic activity remains generally sluggish, while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand. We believe that this will compel the Monetary Policy Committee to keep monetary policy neutral over an extended period, with interest rates remaining unchanged for most of 2013.
“A reversal in policy easing is likely only late in the year or even in 2014. However, deterioration in both the global and domestic economies would increase the chance of another cut,” said the bank.