As a result of a global directive by parent company Daimler AG (Germany), Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) is precluded from reporting detailed, disaggregated sales data for the time being. The company will, however, provide a single total sales number for passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
The lack of comprehensive sales data, including export sales figures, by a major company in the South African Automotive Industry also precludes meaningful evaluation of the Industry’s performance and trends. It also reduces the ability of component companies, vehicle manufacturers and retail participants in planning and optimizing business operations covering areas such as production, importation, distribution, sales and marketing.
Detailed sales data remains a strategic imperative for manufacturers, consumers, financial Institutions and government departments – amongst others. NAAMSA will therefore continue to work with Mercedes-Benz and other interested parties in an effort aimed at re-establishing the participation by MBSA in the sales reporting on a detailed disclosure basis.
In amplification of the new vehicle sales statistics for the month of January, 2012 – released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) – the Association commented that new car and commercial vehicle sales had started the year on a subdued but positive note. Aggregate Industry sales, including the total numbers by MBSA, had improved by 3 144 units or 7.0 percent to 48 251 vehicles from 45 107 units in January last year.
Overall, out of the total detailed reported Industry sales of 45 944 (excluding MBSA) vehicles, 79.1 percent or 36 354 units represented dealer sales, 12.8 percent represented sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 4.7 percent sales to Government and 3.4 percent to Industry corporate fleet sales.
Aggregate Industry new car sales during January 2012 at 35 428 units (including MBSA) reflected an improvement of 2 465 units or 7.5 percent compared to the 32 963 new cars sold during January 2011. The January, 2012 new car market represented the highest January month in the past five years and had received support from strong demand by car rental companies with the car rental Industry accounting for about 17.0 percent of total new car sales.
The absence of MBSA commercial vehicle sales data by segment makes year on year comparisons difficult. The focus therefore, for the time being, will be on total commercial vehicle sales. In the event, industry total commercial vehicle sales during January, 2012 at 12 394 units showed an improvement of 250 units or 2.1 percent compared to the 12 144 units of the corresponding month last year.
Exports of South African produced motor vehicles, excluding MBSA export sales data, during January, 2012 at 10 445 vehicles had registered an improvement of 260 units or 2.6 percent compared to the 10 185 vehicles (including MBSA export data) during January last year. The latest monthly export figure reflected the fact that automotive factories only resumed operations from the middle of January, 2012.
Export sales were expected to improve from February onwards. The Industry’s export sales performance would however depend on the direction of the global economy and the contribution of new export programmes by manufacturers. South Africa currently exported vehicles to 77 countries worldwide. Export sales to Europe were likely to soften as a result of the recession and debt crisis in the Eurozone, however, projected higher exports to African countries and factoring in the contribution of the Ford global compact vehicle export programme – should enable the Industry to record growth and exceed the total number of vehicle exports of 271 763 units in 2011.
At this stage, the outlook for 2012 in terms of total industry sales remained one of modest growth. Factors that would lend support to the domestic market included the ongoing improvement in the financial position of consumers on the back of relatively low interest rates, continuing improvement in vehicle affordability in real terms, the highly competitive trading environment and new model introductions. As a result, domestic sales were expected to continue to reflect growth, but at a relatively subdued rate.
The direction of the global economy remained uncertain and international markets were characterised by volatility and turbulence. This could impact on future export sales.