NEW vehicle sales declined by 25.9% in 2010, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) reported today. It said that for 2009 as a whole, new vehicle sales declined sharply in every sector. Industry aggregate sales had declined by 138,157 units or 25.9% to 395,230 vehicles compared to the 533,387 units sold during 2008. This represented the lowest industry annual sales level since 2003 and underlined the disproportionately severe impact of the three and a half year recession on the domestic market compounded by the shock to the South African economy of the global financial and economic crisis, NAAMSA said.

It added that the extent and severity of the downturn in domestic new vehicle sales was reflected in the fact that from the record sales in 2006 - aggregate sales by 2009 had declined by 319,085 units or 44.7%. New combined commercial vehicle sales had peaked in 2007 and had, over the two years since, fallen by over 104,000 units or 43.2%. At this stage, NAAMSA said, projections for 2010 for the new car market indicate growth of about 6.5%, the light commercial vehicle market by around 8% and sales of medium and heavy trucks and buses also around 8% in volume terms.

In aggregate terms, domestic sales are expected to improve from the 395,000 in 2009 to about 423,000 in 2010 - an increase of 7%. However, the improvement will be off a very low base, NAAMSA added. Factoring in the expected modest improvement in domestic sales together with the fairly substantial anticipated growth in exports, domestic production of motor vehicles in South Africa during 2010 is expected to rise from the approximately 380,000 vehicles produced in 2009 to about 445,000 units projected for 2010 - an increase in vehicle production of about 17%.