2014 commercial vehicle market up 2% year-on-year
By Roger Houghton
The 2014 commercial vehicle market ended on a high note in December with total sales up 10,5% for the month, compared to the same month a year previously. However, the annual sales total of 31 554 units was only 2% ahead of the 2013 total and the outlook for 2015 looks rather flat.
The medium commercial vehicle market slipped 4,9% last year, with the heavy segment up marginally by 0,1%. However, the extra-heavy segment made up for these rather poor performances with a 20,8% increase month-on-month in December and growth of 7,7% for the calendar year. Buses were up 19,8% for the year and showed a massive increase of 73% month-on-month in December, admittedly off a low base.
Export figures for trucks and buses continue to be disappointingly low and in 2014 growth was 17% but volume only rose to 1 411 units from 1 206 in 2013.
As Mercedes-Benz SA declining to provide the Department of Trade and Industries with detailed sales results for November and December, this made it difficult to analyse the various vehicle segment sales.
The outlook for 2015 remains uninspiring according to NAAMSA, with the best case scenario, at this stage, one of marginal volume growth in domestic sales. NAAMSA’s projections are based on expectations of an improvement in South Africa’s economic growth rate to between 2,0% and 2,5% in 2015, relative stability in automotive industry industrial relations, stable interest rates and credit ratings as well as prospects for moderating consumer price inflation.
These expected positive factors would be offset to some extent by higher than inflation new vehicle price increases as a result of the weakness in the Rand for most of 2013 and during 2014 against major international currencies.
Provided the expectations materialised, aggregate new vehicle sales volume growth during 2015 could improve by around 4,0%, with total truck and bus sales expected to rise by almost 5% to 21 500 in 2015. This would represent a commendable performance in relation to the fairly high sales base established over the past few years.