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South Africa’s new vehicle sales declined by 10.1pc in December 2020 to 37,493 units as compared to 41,683 units in Dec 2019, continuing to edge higher, albeit at a slower pace, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).

Of total December sales, new passenger and light commercial vehicles (LCV) sales fell by 14.4pc and 3.2pc, respectively, while sales of heavy commercial vehicles and buses declined by 15.6pc from the year before.

In December, South African vehicle exports grew by 36.3pc to 18,479 units compared to 13,560 units exported in Dec 2019.


Total vehicle sales in 2020

South Africa’s cumulative auto sales in 2020 stood at 380,449 units, down by 29.1pc from 536,612 units in 2019, dropping back to the levels of two decades ago due to the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Africa’s auto sales in 2020
Type20202019YoY (%)
Medium commercial vehicles6,7368,690-22.5pc
Heavy trucks and buses16,00019,322-17.2pc


In 2020, the country’s vehicle exports stood at 271,819 units, declining by 29.8pc from 387,092 units in 2019.



South Africa started 2021 with a level-3 lockdown to curb the COVID-19 pandemic as cases rose over the 1mn mark.

Naamsa said that South Africa’s economy is expected to rebound sharply in 2021. However, it will take time to rebuild the confidence of businesses and consumers. The growth is likely to be constrained by the new COVID-19 wave in the country, along with stricter lockdown measures, needed fiscal tightening, and persistent power-supply disruptions.


The auto industry in South Africa is expected to continue to face severe challenges of slow demand, currency exchange rate volatility, and negative business and consumer sentiment during the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, the association informed.


Naamsa said that the growth in vehicle exports remains on the performance and direction of global markets and will remain linked to the duration and impact of new COVID19 waves in 2021.


The association has projected auto sales in South Africa to grow by 15pc in 2021 as compared to the total sales volume in 2020.


The automotive industry contributes 6.4pc to South Africa’s total GDP. 

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