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February Truck Market Shows Encouraging Growth

The preliminary published February 2012 result for the South African market for commercial vehicles with Gross Vehicle Mass ratings of more than 3 500 kg, was still devoid of sales volumes from a substantial market participant, so it is not possible to draw direct comparisons with historical data that previously contained full reporting details from Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
This non-reporting manufacturer has provided only a globular February commercial vehicle sales total of 630 units, but this must be assumed to also include models from the Light Commercial Vehicle market (Gross Vehicle Mass Ratings below 3 500 kg), so this volume cannot be used to complete the record of the segments covered by this report.
A total sales volume of 1 851 units was units reported during February, 2012 by those members of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) who have elected to remain within the full reporting system.
The market composition was made up of 731 Medium Commercial Vehicles (GVM ratings between 3 501 kg and 8 500 kg), 395 Heavy Commercials (goods vehicles with GVM ratings between 8 501 kg and 16 500 kg), 652 Extra Heavy Commercials (goods vehicles with GVM ratings above 16 500 kg) and 73 passenger Buses with GVM ratings above 8 500 kg. (Please note that these volumes also include aggregated MCV sales recorded by Associated Motor Holdings and Amalgamated Automobile Distributors, which were made up exclusively of Hyundai-branded light truck models).
“Once again, it has been necessary to evaluate the performance of the truck market in February by comparing the latest result published by NAAMSA with data from earlier timeframes from which sales by Mercedes-Benz, its associated brands and other non-reporting manufacturers have been removed. Recognizing the potential distortions that such an analysis might produce, it is prudent to extend the latest review period to also include the January result, thus arriving at a year-to-date comparison for the purposes of this market comment,” says Dr. Casper Kruger, Vice President of Hino in South Africa.
“The resulting calculations reveal total year-on-year market growth of 8,1 per cent when compared to the equivalent first two month period of 2011. In the case of the individual segments, entry-level MCV sales improved by 2,3 per cent, cruiserweight HCV volumes by 17,2 per cent, the premium payload XHCV category by 6,1 per cent and passenger Busses by 52,2 per cent,” he adds.
The substantial improvement in HCV sales is particularly noteworthy, reflecting recent momentum recovery for the Japanese brands that dominate this category, following the reduction in product availability caused by the March 2011 tsunami/earthquake. The uptick in Bus sales is also welcome, as this category has retreated somewhat in the period following Soccer World Cup 2010, and is currently re-establishing a base for future growth.
Kruger adds,“The market growth evident in the above analysis confirms earlier predictions that the momentum gathered by the market during the latter months of 2011 would be sustained into the early months of 2012, while vehicle manufacturers and importers catch up with the unfilled orders that were placed during the latter months of 2011. However, the earlier uncertainty concerning prospects for the market beyond the first quarter of 2012 has been mitigated by the Minister of Finance’s announcement, during his annual Budget Speech, that infrastructure spending to the value of R83 billion has been provided for during the 2012/13 fiscal year.”
The nature of the resulting infrastructure projects, including road and dam construction, improvements to public transport, and housing development, should extend the term of the currently positive environment for commercial vehicle sales.
Kruger concludes: “The planned extension of this infrastructure programme by a further provision of R188 billion over the 2013-2015 period should also sustain the steadily growing trend in truck and bus sales for the medium term. The recent announcement of measures to promote local manufacture of buses through selective public sector tendering is also good news for the local bodybuilding industry, which has found itself seriously disadvantaged since the relaxation of importation restrictions in the mid-1990’s, and contracted substantially as a result. Despite continuing concern over high fuel prices, the local vehicle supply industry is currently operating in a favourable marketing environment, with improving business sentiment, a strong Rand, and the lowest interest rate scenario since the mid-1970’s. These factors combine to present a more positive outcome for trucks and buses during 2012 than may be the case for light vehicles, because of pressure on the disposable income of consumers”.