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BusinessDay

Toyota still on top in SA after 34 years

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At a time when Nigerian auto dealers are hiding imports and sales figures from year to year, latest information available to BusinessDay Nigeria indicates that in South Africa, Toyota ended a tough 2013 as – yet again the country’s best-selling vehicle brand with 9881 deals in December alone and a total of 126,749 Toyota, Lexus and Hino vehicles delivered through 2013.

The figure represents 19.5% of the overall market as the automaker continues to remain SA’s No.1 after 34 years. Senior vice-president of sales and marketing, Calvyn Hamman, said: “We remain humbled by the success of the Toyota brand. When it was established in South Africa in 1961, the company focused on establishing a wide dealer network that directly served customers.”

The network remains the largest of its kind in southern Africa and our sales show that four of every five Toyotas were sold through our dealer network.”

Toyota sales grew by 4.5% in 2013 compared to the overall increase in vehicle sales of 3.2%. Total vehicle sales were recorded at 650,620, making it the best year yet since 2007. The growth rate has however declined from 16.1% in 2011 and 9% in 2012 to 3.2% in 2013 well below the industry’s growth expectation of seven to 10%.

The industry expected a more significant increase in sales, based on low interest rates, the delayed replacement cycle of vehicles after sales peaked in 2006, extremely high levels of new vehicle introductions and retail marketing.

Unfortunately the various strikes in the automotive and component industries, followed by strikes by staff in the vehicle delivery industry, disrupted sales for more than two months. The subsequent shortage of certain high-volume models dampened the year’s local sales and export performance.

Calvyn Hamman also said the much publicised increase in living costs, including rising fuel prices and Gauteng’s road-tolling, had a greater influence on the type of vehicle sold than the overall sales figures. He expected further growth in the entry-level vehicle segments.

According to models, Toyota Etios, a relative newcomer to the entry-level segment, sold 1,865 units in December 2013, and current Corolla, to be replaced in February 2013, 1,077 units. The Hilux remained South Africa’s best-selling vehicle at 2,659. The Quantum and Ses’fikile taxi sold 1,041 and 849 Fortuners found new homes in December 2013.

The Toyota official said he expected vehicle exports to grow significantly this year even as Toyota exported 9,670 vehicles to about 60 countries in last year December. Commercial vehicle sales showed a much better growth rate than light commercial and passenger vehicles, reaching 30,946 in 2013.

Hamman said: “We exceeded 30,000 in the medium, heavy and extra-heavy commercial vehicle market the first time in seven years and will watch commercial sales in the first quarter of 2014 to understand if the market will stabilise, as some analysts believe, or grow at the same tempo as the country’s gross domestic product as others predict.

On the local front, South Africa’s market expects further pressure on vehicle prices as the rand remains weak against major currencies. This will be exacerbated by further pressure on disposable income in 2014 and Toyota expects a strong performance from the new Corolla, South Africa’s favourite sedan, and by a number of new vehicle introductions.

“We also expect significant investments in the automotive industry as the country’s manufacturers gear up for high volume local manufacturing in light of the government’s Automotive Production and Development Programme, which was introduced last year.” He stated.

By: Mike Ochonma