The South African commercial vehicle market continues to defy economic trends by increasing overall sales by 2.3% year-on-year at the end of the third quarter in September.

According to the latest results released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), Associated Motor Holdings (AMH) and Amalgamated Automobile Distributors (AAD), a total of 19 939 new trucks and buses have so far been retailed this year.

“The initial growth seen in the Extra Heavy segment has now started to filter down to the Heavy and Medium Commercial Vehicle segments,” said Gert Swanepoel, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa.  “More specifically, sales to operators in the distribution industry, including long-haul, are driving growth, while demand from the mining, agricultural and construction industries have declined.”

Sales in the MCV segment are slightly down by 2.3% so far this year, for a year-to-date total of 5 730 units.  HCVs are up 1.7% year-on-year to 4 039 units, while the EHCV segment increased by 5.9% to 9 391 new vehicle sales so far this year.  Bus sales have declined to 779 units, a 1.9% decline.

“The sharp increase in diesel prices is a source of great concern to the transport industry,” said Swanepoel.  “As a manufacturer we have for several years now put cost of ownership as our central focus, assisting customers to keep fuel expenses low through measures such as driver training, advanced engine technology, fuel coaching through telematics.”

Swanepoel also said that it was encouraging to see that government and the automotive industry are currently formulating a roadmap to implement stricter emission regulations.

“Customers are looking towards more environmentally friendly transport solutions, and even though we as truck manufacturers can offer these technologies, local infrastructure needs to adjust to support it at this stage,” explained Swanepoel.  “With government and industry stakeholders taking hands to come up with workable solutions for the region, we believe the future of smart modern technology is here.”