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New vehicle sales broke through the 50 000 mark for the first time since March 2011 as the National Association of Automotive Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) recorded 51 436 new vehicle sales in August. This represents an increase of 11.1% over the same month in 2010 and points to a year to date growth of 14.5% for the total vehicle market.
“The new vehicle sales trend is encouraging,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) and Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). “We expect the sales trend to continue to remain positive for the remaining months of this year for an overall sales figure of 570 000 units. This would represent a full year increase of around 15%.” Despite the positive growth, Dr Van Zyl warns that consumers remain under pressure due to rising living costs and lingering economic uncertainty. This, he says, is partially offset by a significant increase in the number of new vehicle introductions.
“The market is truly spoilt for choice and we expect even more new vehicle introductions before and during the Johannesburg International Motor Show, which is scheduled for October,” says Dr Van Zyl. Toyota is a keen participant in the range of new vehicle introductions with vehicles such as the new FJ Cruiser, new Hilux and soon the new Fortuner. The new vehicle introductions coincide with a full recovery of production capacity by Toyota’s major manufacturing plants in Japan. Several high volume vehicles, such as the Yaris Zen, Land Cruiser range and Ses’fikile taxi are imported from Japan.
“The production recovery in Japan, following the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake in the country, is truly inspirational. We are proud of what our colleagues have achieved in a relatively short space of time and we value their role in helping Toyota in South Africa to deliver on customer demand and regain our position as South African and southern African market leader,” says Dr Van Zyl.
Toyota noted very strong demand for several of its key product ranges, including the Fortuner which recorded record segment sales of 1 737 units in August. Other star performers included the Hilux (2 907 units) and Quantum / Ses’fikile range (1 052 units). Sales of the new Toyota Hilux and Quantum ranges were key drivers in the unexpectedly strong growth of light commercial vehicle sales. The light commercial vehicle market grew by 19.8% compared to August last year. Medium and heavy commercial vehicles also recorded strong growth of 24.6% and 13.5% respectively.
The strong August sales month was further supported by a marked improvement in vehicle exports. Total vehicle exports of 24 835 units in August represents a growth of 26.7% compared to the same month in 2010 and a year to date growth of 21.7%. “Despite the clear growth in export sales we will keep a watchful eye on the economic situation in our key export markets, most notably in Europe. The short term actions in these key markets will be a very important leading indicator of export performance for the remaining months of 2011,” says Dr Van Zyl.