naamsa releases December 2022 new vehicle stats

PRETORIA: Monday, January 09, 2023: NOTE TO THE MEDIA – naamsa says that despite multiple national  and international headwinds, the South African motor industry’s recovery to pre-pandemic levels continued in  2022, albeit at a slower pace than 2021.  


The new vehicle market registered its twelfth consecutive month of year-on-year growth during December  2022, with aggregate industry new vehicle sales at 41,783 units recording an increase of 5,839 vehicles or a  gain of 16,2% compared to the total new vehicle sales of 35,944 units during the corresponding month of  December 2021. The December 2022 new passenger car market and light commercial vehicle market reflected  a sound performance with a year-on-year volume increase of 15,4% in the case of new passenger cars and a  gain of 16,1% in the case of light commercial vehicles. Sales of medium commercial vehicles increased year 

on-year by 36,9% while heavy commercial vehicles and buses increased by 23,1%.  

Export sales in December 2022 ended the year on a positive note and at 26,302 units reflected a gain of 5,130  vehicles or an increase of 24,2% compared to the 21,172 vehicles exported during December 2021.  

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 41,783 vehicles, an estimated 37,479 units or 89,7%  represented dealer sales, an estimated 7,3% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 1,5% to  government, and 1,5% to industry corporate fleets. 


Following a robust recovery in the 2021 domestic new vehicle market, increasing year-on-year by 22,2% to  464,493 units compared to the severely COVID-19 affected 380,206 units in 2020, aggregate new vehicle sales  recovered further by 13,9% to 528,963 units in 2022, but still 1,4% below the pre-pandemic 536,612 units sold  in 2019.  

New vehicle sales are regarded as a good barometer of the health of the domestic economy. Following a fairly  upbeat first quarter 2022 industry performance, global supply chain disruptions along with the impact of the  devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, elevated inflation, an upward trend in interest rates, record fuel prices, as  well as record highs in the frequency and intensity of load shedding weighed heavily on both business and  consumer confidence. However, the new vehicle market’s performance in 2022 remained resilient despite the  the multiple national and international headwinds.  

On a positive note, the lifting of all COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the country in 2022 along with the recovery  in business and leisure travel provided some support to the new vehicle market to counter the growing  pressures on household incomes. However, the consumer trend of buying less expensive and smaller cars, usually SUVs or crossovers, continued in 2022. Stronger sales in the various commercial vehicle segments  indicated improved business confidence, even in the tough economic times.  

The following table summarises annual aggregate industry sales by sector since 2018 –  

Sector 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2022 / 2021  % Change 
Cars 365 247 355 379 246 541 304 341 363 092 +19,3% 
Light Commercials 159 525 153 221 110 912 133 077 135 666 +2,0% 
Medium Commercials 7 913 8 690 6 735 7 520 8 370 +11,3% 
Heavy Trucks, Buses 19 579 19 322 16 018 19 555 21 835 +11,7% 
Total Vehicles 552 227 536 612 380 206 464 493 528 963 +13,9% 

Source: naamsa, Lightstone Auto

Although the KwaZulu-Natal flooding disaster left its mark on the industry’s performance and the country’s  major logistics network during the year, vehicle exports at 351,450 units in 2022 reflected an increase of 53,  430 vehicles or a gain of 17,9% compared to the 298,020 vehicles exported in 2021.  

The following table reflects the industry’s export sales performance since 2018 –  

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2022 / 2021  % Change 
Cars 221 681 260 843 178 788 173 774 238 288 +37,1% 
Light Commercials 128 322 125 422 91 942 123 667 112 321 -9,2% 
Trucks & Buses 1 136 827 558 579 841 +45,3% 
Total Exports 351 139 387 092 271 288 298 020 351 450 +17,9% 

Source: naamsa, Lightstone Auto 

Global economic conditions have deteriorated significantly given persistently high inflation and aggressive  interest rate hikes in many advanced and developing countries. The risks to export sales therefore reside on  the downside for 2023, but growth prospects for domestic vehicle exports remain optimistic on the back of  several new model introductions by major vehicle exporters.  


Just as COVID-19 pandemic-induced disruptions seemed to subside in 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dealt  a further blow to business and consumer confidence globally and in South Africa. The geopolitical conflict in  Ukraine resulted in further supply chain disruptions and have inflated prices and the availability of  strategic products and inputs. Energy prices have been at the centre of the inflationary surge and inflationary  pressure, which caused an accelerated increase in interest rates in major world markets.  

In South Africa, consumer price inflation reached a 13-year high, increasing to 7,8% in July 2022. As expected,  the South African Reserve Bank in 2022 raised the interest rate for seven consecutive times since November  2021 and to its highest level since 2016. The higher stages of load-shedding also seemed to have an amplified  negative impact on production and the South African economy as a whole. However, despite the myriad of  negative economic pressures and ongoing stock supply shortages, the new vehicle market continued to  outperform expectations in 2022. 

As far as 2023 is concerned, the domestic new vehicle market’s performance is expected to remain resilient  despite weakening domestic economic indicators and a deteriorating global growth outlook. Growing concerns  about global “stagflation”, which is high interest rates combined with slow growth and high inflation, the continued  economic impact and disruption of supply chains resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war, and the current pace of  tighter monetary policy in major markets have increased the possibility of a global recession. There is also a  likelihood of further near-term global supply chain disruptions stemming from the rapid re-opening of the  Chinese economy that has resulted in surging COVID-19 infections.  

GDP growth in South Africa continues to be adjusted downwards and was now expected to be at 1,1% for  2023. In view of the close correlation between new vehicle sales and the country’s GDP growth rate, single  digit growth in new vehicle sales could be expected for 2023 as the market returns to pre-pandemic levels in  sales and exports.  

A key priority focus for the South African government in 2023 is to finalise the support framework for NEVs,  considering the importance of timing of the interventions so that they were aligned with investment decisions and  lead times of the OEMs when considering next-generation models.  

Best wishes for 2023 to the media and all automotive industry stakeholders.

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