Namibia breaks eight-year record for car sales

… Tourism growth drives sales

Namibia has sold the highest number of cars in eight years in March, partially thanks to car rentals in the tourism industry.

According to data from economic analysts Simonis Storm Securities, 1 451 vehicles were sold in March this year, with dealerships accounting for 1 269.

The latest stastistics show that car dealerships took the bulk of new vehicles sold in March as sales hit the highest mark since July 2016.

Although interest rates remain high, this is a reflection of a turnaround in the economy.

A total of 182 units were sold to rental agencies, pointing to growth in the self-drive sector and the car hire segment of the tourism industry.

Gitta Paetzold, the chief executive of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, believes the growth of the tourism industry’s self-drive sector has had a huge influence on the car-rental business after Covid-19.

“The number of vehicles and car-rental agencies has grown since the end of Covid-19, when a lot of companies folded and de-fleeted.

“Self-drive tourism has gone from strength to strength, and car-rental companies have to stock up on all vehicles, including sedans and 4x4s, as this is a popular part of the tourism industry,” Paetzold says.

Simonis says 1 540 vehicles were sold in July 2016, while 1 451 units were sold in March 2024, with none of the vehicles going to the government, which continues on austerity measures announced two years ago.

“Vehicle sales were primarily driven by demand for commercial vehicles,” the analysts say.

While the first quarter of 2015 holds the record for the highest vehicle sales, the first quarter of 2024 outperformed any first quarter since 2016, with a total of 3 503 units sold, representing an 11,8% increase compared to the same period last year, they say.

In March 2024, a total of 826 commercial vehicles were sold, comprising 56,9% of total vehicle sales, marking the highest sales figure since August 2016.

“The surge in sales can primarily be attributed to light commercial vehicles, which experienced a remarkable 29,5% year-on-year (y/y) increase,” Simonis says.

However, the analysts say the picture varies across different categories of commercial vehicles.

The surge in passenger vehicle sales may indicate rising consumer confidence and suggest economic expansion, despite prevailing high interest rates and inflationary pressures, pointing to a sustained momentum in new vehicle sales.

Simonis says the Toyota Hilux maintained its position as the most popular choice within the light commercial vehicle segment.

In the medium commercial vehicle category, the Hino 300 series stood out, while the Hino 500 series led in heavy commercial vehicles.

Extra-heavy commercial vehicles were dominated by the Man TGS, and Scania emerged the preferred option among buses.

For passenger vehicles, the Toyota Fortuner remained a top choice among consumers.

In contrast to Namibia, South Africa’s new vehicle market continued its downward trend for the eighth consecutive month, experiencing an 11,7% y/y decrease in total sales to 44 235 units compared to the previous year.

The export market also suffered, with a 27,1% y/y decline to 24 161 units.

According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), the decline in sales is attributable to a challenging business environment and weakened consumer demand, exacerbated by the Easter holidays resulting in fewer trading days.

Even the typically strong light commercial vehicle segment saw a decline, with registrations dropping by 5,9% y/y to 14 626 units.

The Toyota Hilux remained the top-selling bakkie line-up, with 3 104 units sold.

The Nissan NP200 showed a significant improvement in sales, securing the second position with 2 679 units sold, marking a 110% increase from the previous month.

The Isuzu D-Max came in third with 2 095 units sold, including 542 purchased by the South African government.
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