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It is not all doom and gloom

It is not all doom and gloom

President and CEO of Toyota Motors South Africa Andrew Kirby predicts that in 2023 the total South African vehicle market will sell 570 000 vehicles, including 375 642 passenger vehicles and 161 317 light commercial vehicles. “This figure is based on how we see the market, coupled with what we as Toyota can physically supply. If stock constraints weren’t a real factor, we would be forecasting a total market of 580 000,” says Kirby.

Last year, Kirby had forecasted that 540 000 vehicles would be sold. However, a totally unexpected challenge in the form of severe floods which saw production cease for three months at Toyota’s Prospecton Plant in Durban put a damper on those plans. This coupled with ongoing shipping delays at the Durban Port severely impacted Toyota’s ability to reach its targets and influenced the entire industry. The result was that the industry fell short of the initial prediction, selling 528 963 vehicles by December last year.

While the industry might have lost momentum, the majority of vehicle manufacturers are reporting record sales for 2022. Most manufacturers expect this trend to continue and that 2023 will be another record year in terms of sales.

Commenting on this phenomenon, one industry expert believes that COVID-19 lockdowns actually had a positive effect on the commercial vehicle industry because in South Africa these services were classified as essential and allowed to continue to operate despite the various lockdown restrictions. The industry was forced to adapt and has been continually challenged during the last two years and these challenges have fortunately led to growth.

The continual growth of online shopping has certainly helped the industry maintain momentum and there is no sign of that slowing down. In South Africa the total motorcycle market grew by 18,4% compared to 2021. Remarkably small capacity commercial and commuting motorcycles and scooters such as those used for last mile deliveries grew by 29.6%.

2022 was characterised by ongoing challenges including flooding and a severe Transnet strike and for the industry to show growth despite these challenges is simply incredible. One only hopes that more long-term effects such as rising inflation, interest rates and overcrowded routes doesn’t stop this momentum from continuing.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa