Heavy vehicle sales hit by sluggish economy

JOHANNESBURG – Truck sales in the country, especially the Heavy and Extra Heavy Commercial Vehicle segments, have been affected by the sluggish economy with sales slipping 2.3 percent in the month of May to 10 252 units in a year-to-date comparison, according to the latest combined year-to-date results released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), Associated Motor Holdings (AMH) and Amalgamated Automobile Distributors (AAD). 

New vehicle sales declined from April to May 2019 by 6.3 percent and 15.9 percent respectively. 

“The drop in South Africa’s GDP by 3.2percent during the first quarter of the year has now eroded some of the positive growth seen in the transport industry so far this year,” said Gert Swanepoel, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa. “The performance of the local economy during the next two quarters will be critical for our industry.” 

The sector said another factor that is having a negative impact on the industry is the ongoing violence and attacks on trucks, especially along the N3 highway. 

“It is of vital importance that the government and police address and prevent these attacks on trucks and its drivers. Trucks form a crucial part of the economy and driver safety is of utmost importance,” emphasised Swanepoel. 

On Tuesday, at least three trucks were torched at a depot in Balgowan in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, while another caught alight after its brakes failed at the Tugela Toll Plaza on Monday night. 

N3 Toll Concession commercial manager Con Roux confirmed the incidents but said they were unrelated to ongoing protests over the hiring of foreign nationals. A looming national strike by truck drivers on July 18 could spell further disaster for the already ailing trucking industry. 

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