In spite of recent political and economic events, South Africa’s truck market grew in the first quarter. However, the effect of rating agency downgrades will determine if the trend will remain or be eroded.

That’s the view of Gert Swanepoel, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa, who says: “The next few months will be critical in determining the path we as a country will follow. Leadership in all spheres of business, but mostly in government, will be the key.”

Swanepoel says a consolidated road freight industry will be needed to drive reform and advancement in the sector, as well as in the larger economy.

According to March’s sales results, the total truck market increased by a significant 16,9% month-on-month to record 2 618 new sales. The figure brought the market’s year-to-date total to 6 416 units for the first quarter of 2017, a 3,9% increase over the same period last year.

During the first three months of the year, sales in the medium commercial segment grew by 3,3% to 1 993 units compared to the first quarter of 2016.  Sales in the heavy commercial vehicle segment increased by 11,9% to 1 355 units, while the extra heavy commercial segment grew by 2,2% to 2 837 units.

Only the bus segment – with sales of 231 units this year – remained in the red with a 10,5% decline.

“Amidst all the turbulence, we believe that the dust will settle and the steady slog towards growth in the truck industry will begin once more,” says Swanepoel.  “We still expect the South African commercial vehicle market to grow marginally by an estimated 3% during 2017, to around 28 998 units.”