The consumer-sensitive new car segment however declined 2.2% while commercial vehicle sales registered gains, with light commercial sales rising 3.7%, heavy commercial vehicles 7.6% and extra-heavy trucks up 20.8%.
Exports also declined, to 24 660 units, a decline of 3 122 vehicles equating to a 11.2% fall in sales.
“Overall, out of the total (disaggregated) reported industry sales of 55 343 vehicles, 85.8% or 47 505 units represented dealer sales, 5% to government, 4.7% to the vehicle rental industry and 4.5% to corporate industry fleets,” the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA said.
It said the momentum of industry vehicle exports should pick up “substantially” from the middle of the year on the back of the start of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class export programme.
Going forward, it said sales would continue to be affected by subdued economic growth, rising new vehicle prices on the weak rand and upward pressure on interest rates. This would impact on consumption, particularly in the private market, with consumers battling indebtedness, rising energy prices and escalating transport costs like fuel and e-tolls.