New vehicle sales in July reflected an increase of 26,5 per cent over the same period last year, but sales across the sectors were down by 6,5 per cent over June 2005, according to Naamsa.

New vehicle sales in July reflected an increase of 26,5 per cent over the same period last year, but sales across the sectors were down by 6,5 per cent over June 2005, according to Naamsa.

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) on Tuesday revealed that new vehicle sales had registered another strong month in July. An aggregate of 46 805 units sold showed an improvement of 7 602 units (19 per cent) compared with the 39 203 units sold in the same period last year.

The aggregate new vehicle sales for the first seven months of the year were up by 26,5 per cent compared with the same period in 2004, but Naamsa noted that this momentum had slowed significantly in July. The association cautioned that this was likely to continue , based on the high monthly sales base recorded in the second half of 2004.

July's new car sales, at 30 933 units , reflected a gain of 4 302 units, or 16,2 per cent, compared with the 26 631 new cars sold during the same period in 2004.

However, the July, 2005 new car market reflected a decline of 1 180 vehicles, or 3,7 per cent, compared with the 32 113 new cars sold during June 2005.

Including the additional 3 619 new cars sold, but not reported in detail through Naamsa, the July new car market reached sales of 34 552 units. This figure is another July record, as demand for new cars remains high.

The light commercial vehicle sector also reflected significant growth of 25,6 per cent compared with July 2004 sales. Unit sales were recorded at 13 412 units, an improvement of 2 732, compared with the 10 680 units sold in July 2004.

Although the growth remained positive, this was another 1 883 units (or 12,3 per cent) decline from the sales recorded in June 2005.

In the medium and heavy commercial vehicle sectors, sales of 1 008 and 1 452 units respectively amounted to a substantial gain compared to the sales figures of July 2004. The increase of 138 units (15,9 per cent) in the medium, and 430 units (42,1 per cent) in the heavy category compared with last year, showed continued investment in the transport sector.

The latest information indicates that export sales of vehicles produced locally during the first half of 2005, at 48 292 units, have remained below the numbers exported in the first half of 2004, when 51 114 South African-built vehicles went to overseas markets. These figures are expected to increase with the recent announcements of several new export contracts by local manufacturers.

Strong business confidence and consumer sentiment, low interest rates, attractive sales incentives and the introduction of several new models continued to influence the market, which looks set for record sales for the second successive year.

Manufacturers' comments:

"While Nissan's own sales for July were affected by a shortage of stock, we were very pleased with the performance of our brand new entrant in the medium SUV market, the Pathfinder," Roel de Vries, Nissan's head of sales and marketing, commented.

According to Nissan, the Pathfinder was the best-seller in its segment and the top selling four-wheel drive SUV in the country over July. The 350Z remained the most popular sports car - a position it has held since its launch in January last year, the manufacturer noted.

Malcolm Gauld, sales and marketing director for GMSA said: "Our performance in sectors where we dominate, such as the sub 1 - ton bakkie segment, continues , with 1654 Opel Corsa Utilities sold. Demand for the Isuzu KB remains strong and the recent addition of three new models and service and maintenance plans across the range will add even further to this performance.

"We also managed to increase our sales volumes in the passenger vehicle market, and in fact recorded our best total passenger vehicle sales (3 176 units) in over five years, achieving a 10,3 per cent share of the passenger market," said Gauld.

"Traditional demand for direct sales to government and rental fleets in the third and fourth quarters, coupled to positive consumer sentiment, augurs well for the whole industry for the balance of 2005," Gauld concluded.

Associated Motor Holdings chief executive, Manny de Canha, said: "The improved financial health of individuals, and especially the upward mobility of buying power among the previously disadvantaged markets, continues to encourage the buying of new vehicles. Even though the market is down, we will continue to experience the result of economic transformation and this trend will continue to stimulate the new vehicle market in future.

"According to Wesbank, the financing of vehicles for previously disadvantaged buyers has grown by 900 per cent over the last 11 years, and this segment is now responsible for an estimated 23 per cent of new business today."

Volkswagen SA's sales and marketing director Jolyon Nash said, year-to-date, the company had already sold 11 701 units more than in 2004.

"July was an all-time record passenger car sales month for Volkswagen of South Africa, with sales of 7 873 cars into the market. Another significant fact is that year-to-date, Volkswagen of South Africa is 8 516 passenger units ahead of Toyota," Nash commented.

Luxury brand Audi topped sales of 1 000 units again this month, capturing three per cnet of the total passenger car market.

According to Brand Pretorius, chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings, should one include sales recorded by Associated Motor Holdings, total sales again exceeded the 50 000 mark to end the month on 51 447 units. "This sales figure for new vehicle sales last month represented the best ever sales on record for a July month.

"The most encouraging feature of July's sales is the strong performance of the different commercial vehicle market segments," said Pretorius. " The buoyant commercial vehicle sales are as a result of higher levels of economic activity and business confidence. Total commercial vehicle sales were up from 12 572 in July last year, to 15 872 this year."

"The record sales also clearly demonstrate the willingness of local companies to boost capital expenditure due to their bullishness about future business prospects. It is encouraging to note that the ageing commercial vehicle population is now being renewed at quite a rapid pace."

"The upturn in used vehicle sales is most encouraging, as sales have been stagnant now for over a year. A more healthy demand for used vehicles will undoubtedly influence new car trading and volumes positively in the months to come," said Pretorius.

"All indications are that the vehicle market will retain its momentum over the next quarter."

:: Click here for complete new vehicle sales figures during July ::

Original article from Car