Bloomberg News

South African Vehicle Sales Gain as Rental Agencies Restock

September 02, 2011

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- South African vehicle sales growth accelerated in August as rental companies renewed their fleets ahead of the December tourist season, an industry group said.

Sales gained 11.1 percent to 51,436 vehicles compared with the same month a year earlier, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement today. The car rental market accounted for one-in-five sales, compared with an average 7.5 percent contribution, Naamsa director Nico Vermeulen said in a phone interview.

“The car rental contribution is incredible,” Vermeulen said. “It’s a major contributing factor.”

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. While vehicles sales are rising, production in the wider manufacturing industry has faltered, falling an annualized 7 percent in the second quarter, with the purchasing managers’ index indicating a contraction in July and August.

Passenger car sales rose 8 percent from a year ago to 36,197 in August, while purchases of light commercial vehicles, such as pick-up trucks and minivans, jumped 19.8 percent to 12,933, it said.

Exports surged an annual 27 percent to 24,835 in August and will probably reach a record 300,000 this year, Naamsa said.

Vehicle sales growth for the rest of the year may moderate as consumers reduce spending due to higher electricity and fuel costs, Naamsa said.

“The domestic macro environment going forward is likely to become less supportive,” it said. “Recent low numbers in the purchasing managers’ index suggests a slower pace of expansion over the medium term.”

--Editors: Gordon Bell, Nasreen Seria

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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