June 2 (Bloomberg) -- South African vehicle sales rose at the slowest pace in 17 months in May as a decline in imports of car-parts after an earthquake in Japan reduced production, an industry group said.
Sales gained 6.1 percent from the same month a year earlier to 41,555 vehicles, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement today. Sales growth slowed for three consecutive months.
“Our members told us there were constraints on availability of components from Japan,” Naamsa Executive Manager Norman Lamprecht said in a phone interview from Pretoria today. “We anticipate for everything to get back to normal in the coming months.”
Carmakers have benefited from an increase in consumer spending after the Reserve Bank cut interest rates in Africa’s biggest economy to the lowest in 30 years. Vehicle exports should reach a record 300,000 this year, Lamprecht said.
“The higher sales of new cars over the past 17 months reflected continued recovery on the consumption side of the economy, largely driven by the 6 1/2 percent decline in interest rates since end-2008,” Naamsa said in a statement.
Passenger car sales rose 12 percent from a year ago to 28,830 in May, while purchases of light commercial vehicles, such as pick-up trucks and minivans, decreased 7.9 percent to 10,609, it said.
Exports slumped an annual 8.8 percent to 22,063 in May, Naamsa said.
Toyota Motor Corp., the second-biggest auto seller in South Africa after Volkswagen AG, wasn’t able to supply factories with car components after a magnitude-9 earthquake reduced production in Japan, Lamprecht said.
--Editors: Gordon Bell, Nasreen Seria
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