It may not be the halfway mark that Toyota – or even the local auto industry and local economy, for that matter – had envisaged for 2020, but vehicle sales for the month of June have sparked some hope in the automotive sector.
Local sales were already under pressure, due to a shrinking economy when the country went into a hard lockdown at the end of March – halting retail in the industry for two months.
According to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), Leon Theron: “The impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown have left Toyota approximately 24% short of where we would have like to be on our annual sales plan. This has mainly been driven by the intermission in car rental space, compounded by restricted trade during the lockdown and dwindling consumer confidence.
“Although we expected challenges in our first month out of full lockdown, we can see that the pro-active preparation by our dealerships has given us the edge in achieving more than we initially expected. We do however remain cautiously optimistic as to what July, and the rest of the year, may offer the industry as the situation remains capricious due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country.”
At 31 876, domestic sales for June have contracted by a substantial 30.7% compared to the same month last year when a total of 45 953 vehicles were sold.
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) says out of the total domestic sales for June, an estimated 29 100 units or 91.3% represented dealer sales, 4.6% sales to government, 3.7% to industry corporate fleets, while an estimated 0.4% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry.
That said TSAM still managed a credible retail total of 8 442 units for the month of June, with a 26.5% market share. The split was as follows: 3 749 were passenger vehicles, 4 444 were Light Commercial Vehicles, 144 were Medium Commercial Vehicles (MCV), with Heavy Commercial (HCV) and Extra Heavy Commercial Vehicles segments recording a combined aggregate of 105 units.
Notable performances in the passenger segment included Fortuner (961), Corolla Quest (718) and Etios (637). On the LCV front, South African favourites and all-time segment leaders – Hilux as well as Hiace – recorded class-leading sales of 3 131 and 908 units apiece. Hino registered a total of 143 units, comprising 69 models of 300 Series (12.9% share of the MCV segment) and 74 models of 500 Series (16.3% share of the HCV segment).
As per Theron’s observations, the arrival of the Coronavirus has already crippled industry sales targets for 2020, but TSAM and its dealers are nowhere close to throwing in the towel: “The market has experienced a severe decline and we expect large amount of sales stimulus to create some economic activity in the sector. As TSAM, we have also adjusted our sales targets to suit this outlook, trusting in our diverse product line-up as well as the incredibly strong dealer network that has always been the cornerstone of our business.”
While the first half of the year reflects trying times for local automotive sales, Theron says he is continuously encouraged by the work ethic of Toyota dealers who have always shown great courage in the face adversity.
“Despite having revised our annual targets due to lockdown, we have nonetheless set the bar high for our dealers in terms of the sales numbers. We strongly believe that our dealer network can get to these numbers and are excited to see them take on this challenge,” concludes Theron.
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