Toyota Retains Crown On Eve Of New Corolla Introduction

Market segment February 2013 February 2014 % change
Passenger vehicles 36 390 34 414 -5.4%
Light commercial vehicles 14 752 14 879 +0.9%
Medium commercial vehicles 930 910 -2.2%
Heavy commercial vehicles 421 436 +3.6%
Extra Heavy commercial vehicles 839 1 069 +19.7%
Bus 90 106 +17.8%
Vehicle exports 27 081 21 819 -19.4%
Overall market (local) 53 476 51 814 -3.1%

 New vehicle sales have lost some momentum in the short February sales month as certain major manufacturers continue to prepare production lines for new models and the current economic conditions put a damper on vehicle retail.

“The Toyota Corolla sales figures provide a good example of what is happening with more than one manufacturer and what is slowing sales growth,” says Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors.

“The run out of the Corolla has been more successful than originally planned. As the new Corolla has not been released yet (it is available from dealers today) there has been an undersupply of Corolla that has affected our sales volume. Fortunately we have sufficient stock for the introduction of the new model and we trust that sales volumes will return to normal levels in March.”

Hamman explains that similar production shifts are currently underway at another volume manufacturer and hence one cannot lay the full blame of the slow-down in sales growth at the door of the current economic climate.

A similar effect is evident in vehicle exports, which have declined by 19.4% in February and which are expected to remain comparatively low until local volume production returns to normal.

With reference to local vehicle sales, Hamman notes that the current economic climate is expected to influence vehicle choice more than sales volume at this time.

“Much has been written about the decline in consumer confidence and the pressure on disposable income. This is affected by the increase in fuel and vehicle prices, which in turn has been influenced by, amongst other things, the fact that the rand has lost value against major trading currencies.”

Despite these economic pressures, we notice a greater demand for small or more affordable vehicles and a general downward buying pattern.

The Toyota Hilux notched up sales of 3 419 units in February, making up for the vacuum created by Corolla before its local introduction. At the same time Toyota delivered 1 836 new Etios to customers in February, supporting the view that sales volumes remain stable, while vehicle choice is changing.

“The first customers took delivery of their Toyota Corolla models today, so we expect March to be a better month for Toyota. Despite this positive news, and a continued strong performance by vehicles such as the Hilux, we expect the overall market to remain stable for the year or perhaps even decline marginally,” says Hamman.