TRANSPORT: Truck Sales Surge In February
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Published retail sales of trucks, buses and vans with Gross Vehicle Mass ratings of more than 3 500 kg surged ahead strongly during the month of February, 2011. The total volume of 2 254 units reported to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa improved by the substantial margin of 41,5% on the final audited total of 1593 units recorded in January, 2011, and provided the market with its best monthly overall result since November 2008. The total aggregated market for January and February 2011 has also improved by 27,4% when compared to the equivalent volumes reported during the initial two months of 2010.
The February, 2011 market composition was made up of 861 Medium Commercial Vehicles (GVM ratings between 3 501 kg and 8 500 kg), 385 Heavy Commercials (goods vehicles with GVM ratings between 8 501 kg and 16 500 kg), 936 Extra Heavy Commercials (goods vehicles with GVM ratings above 16 500 kg) and 72 passenger Buses with GVM ratings above 8 500 kg. Readers should please note that these volumes now also include sales reported by Associated Motor Holdings and Amalgamated Automobile Distributors, which helped the MCV segment to record its highest volume result since February 2009. The premium payload XHCV segment also recorded its best month since November 2008, while the distribution rich HCV segment has returned year-to-date growth of 13,1% compared to its performance during the January/February 2010 period. February Bus sales, while improving by 4,3% on their January result, contributed to a year-to-date total that was 46,4% below that recorded during the fi rst two months of 2010.
Dr. Casper Kruger, Vice President of Hino in South Africa, comments: “With the ‘short’ working months of December and January now firmly behind it, the local commercial vehicle supply industry can now expect to see the emergence of sustainable volume and segmentation trends emerging in the Truck Market. In this context, February’s result is very pleasing, with the market returning to levels last seen in 2008, before the full impact of the global financial and economic crisis was felt on commercial vehicle sales in South Africa. This performance gives further credence to the view that the overall market had stabilised during the second half of 2010, providing a firm platform for future growth”.
Kruger continues: “It is important to note, however, that the market in February was not completely unconstrained by negative influences. One significant participant, that had reported 72 units delivered in January, unexpectedly failed to register any sales in February. There was also a highly disruptive truck drivers’ strike, accompanied by violence and intimidation, which mitigated against the movement of commercial vehicles for at least one week in what was already a month containing less than the average number of working days. The preparation of trucks which emerge from factories and stock yards as chassis cabs often require multiple movements to bodybuilders, modifiers and equipment suppliers prior to final customer handover, and the strike environment would have posed risks for the driving of valuable new equipment into volatile environments”.
Kruger concludes: “As these words are written, the major issue confronting operators will be the volatile oil price, and its impact on the local cost of fuel. The kind of unforeseen upward movement currently evident in the price of diesel has the potential to play havoc with haulage contract budgets, and it will be challenging for transporters to recover the full impact from their clients in the short term. This places a high premium on efficient operation, and should prompt operators to pay increased attention to issues such as driver training, vehicle maintenance, and monitoring tyre pressures. The option of moving to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles is not generally available in the haulage arena, as the task to be performed defines the size of the truck, bus or van that is employed. It is notable however, that the MCV segment has recovered market share during the initial months of 2011, and this may be indicative of some buy-down from the lower extr emes of the HCV category directly above. It will be advisable to monitor market segmentation shifts closely during the remainder of this year”.
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