Bloomberg News

South African Vehicle Sales Rise 18.9% as Low Rates Boost Demand

November 02, 2011

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- South African vehicle sales grew 18.9 percent in October from a year earlier as interest rates at their lowest level in 30 years bolstered demand, an industry group said.

Sales climbed to 52,338 vehicles from 44,029 in the same month a year ago, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement today. Sales growth slowed from 30 percent in September, when a series of strikes in the year-earlier period boosted the increase.

“Industry sales figures over the past few months have exceeded expectations,” Naamsa said. Factors helping growth in October included an “improvement in the financial position of consumers on the back of relatively low interest rates.”

South Africa’s Reserve Bank has kept the benchmark rate in Africa’s biggest economy at 5.5 percent this year to help boost consumer spending and economic growth. The manufacturing industry will probably rebound from a contraction in the second quarter that caused economic growth to decelerate to 1.3 percent, the slowest pace in almost two years. Output rose 5.6 percent in August from a year earlier and the purchasing managers’ index was above 50 in September and October, signaling expansion.

Passenger-car sales surged 20 percent to 36,826 in October, while purchases of light commercial vehicles, such as pick-up trucks and minivans, jumped 16 percent to 12,994, Naamsa said.

More Subdued

Exports declined 2.7 percent to 25,860 vehicles in October from a year earlier, it said. Shipments will probably reach about 280,000 for the year, less than a previous estimate of a record 300,000.

Vehicle sales growth for the “medium term” may be more subdued, “in line with the overall performance of the South African economy,” Naamsa said. “Prospects of slower global growth, particularly in developed economies, could impact on industry export sales going forward.”

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week cut his forecast for economic expansion this year to 3.1 percent and 3.4 percent in 2012 as a debt crisis in Europe, which buys about a third of South Africa’s manufactured exports, undermines growth in that region.

--Editors: Gordon Bell, Vernon Wessels

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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