MOTORING NEWS - Apart from a decent showing by light commercials (bakkies and panel vans), total new vehicle sales in March, at 47 718 units, dropped by 1 512 units (3,1%) compared to March 2018.
For the third month in a row, the passenger car component showed a decline with 30 348 units sold - 1 805 vehicles fewer than a year ago.
Light commercials, on the other hand, recorded 14 994 sales - a modest increase of 275 units.
In the top ten listings, Toyota yet again emerged victorious with 11 473 sales, which represents 24,7% of all vehicles sold in South Africa. Toyota's achievers were Hilux with a sublime 4 252 total, ably supported by Corolla on 1 081, Fortuner on 954, and the new RAV with a commendable 715 sold.
Despite tough conditions, Toyota increased sales by some 1 300 units when compared with February this year, while traditional runner-up Volkswagen (6 627) sold some 800 fewer vehicles than in February. Volkswagen's best sellers were Polo Vivo (2 498), Polo on 1 383 and Tiguan with a solid 447 sales.
Meanwhile, Nissan (5 417) remains in third overall (at the expense of Ford) with good sales by NP200 (2 144), NP300 with 839 units sold, while Datsun GO (605) continues to surprise. Qashqai (252) and X-Trail (294) however, continue to idle along without impressing the charts.
By now, Ford (4 961) is probably weary of lagging behind Nissan, despite excellent figures from Ranger (2 376), EcoSport's 868 sales, and Figo on 722. Amazingly, 91 buyers voted for Kuga, while 22 new owners will enjoy their new Mustangs.
In fifth overall, the first Korean - Hyundai - achieved 2 885 total sales with Grand i10 (1 030), i20 on 476 sales, and Creta (308) all lending a hand. Hyundai will also cherish a strong showing by its locally assembled H100 one-tonner which went to 235 new owners.
Another importer in the AMH stable, Renault (2 289), remains in sixth place overall with strong support from Kwid (1 081), Sandero II with 627 units sold, as well as Duster which should do much better than its reported 186 sales.
Following the departure of General Motors, Isuzu - with its limited model range - slots comfortably into seventh place with 1 949 total sales, with D-MAX (1 445) leading the charge. BMW, 1 385 sales and eight overall, will be delighted with its fairly decent showing and an improvement from ninth place, while also having relegated arch-rival Mercedes-Benz (1 238) to last place. BMW's performers were 3-Series (373) and 218 sales of the locally built X3. On the other hand, Mercedes-Benz refuses to report individual model sales.
Wedged in between the two Germans, KIA (1 318) will be more than happy with its ninth place overall. Having been outside the top ten in February, KIA will thank Picanto (630), Rio with 322 sales, and Sportage (181) for their return to the top ten rankings.
When looking at those importers outside this select circle, it's clear that volumes alone do not indicate profitability. Porsche, for instance, had a great March with an excellent 144 new vehicles sold, while the iconic Audi R8 (10) reached double figures for the first time in months.
Other über-luxury brands also did fairly well, with Bentley recording four sales, Maserati on five and Ferrari with six.
There are, however, those importers who will have to reflect on their viability in South Africa - notably Peugeot / Citroën (97) and Subaru on 96 total sales.
With the motor vehicle industry employing some 110 000 people, and with locally assembled vehicles exported to 149 countries, the industry still remains under pressure due to political uncertainty, expensive fuel, and the rand constantly shrinking against all other currencies.
It's believed, however, that the next quarter will see a slight improvement, while exports - at 37 296 units in March - could overtake domestic sales in future.
'We bring you the latest Garden Route, Hessequa, Karoo news'