In the wake of plummeting sales, the closing months of 2008 saw manufacturers facing unexpected storage and refurbishing expenses on top of stock financing costs. During 2009, a fall in the demand for road freight and transport caused new vehicle sales to decline even further. Industry captains now face the daunting task of predicting truck and bus sales for 2010.
Last year was a challenging one for road transport operators and truck manufacturers. Although forecasts were based on a decline in actual sales of medium- to extra-heavy commercial vehicles and buses from 33 000 in 2007 to significantly less than the
28 000 predicted for 2008, the negative impact of an ongoing global recession and a concomitant downturn in the South African economy was grossly underestimated.
This year’s sales estimate for medium- to extra-heavy commercial vehicles and buses currently stands at approximately 19 500. Once again, global trends and their impact on the South African economy will need to be factored into forecasts for the coming year.
While financial experts tend to agree that major economic adjustments during the past 18 months indicate a bottoming-out in the US recession, warnings that the rest of the world may take at least twelve more months to benefit from the anticipated upturn in the world’s largest economy cannot go unheeded. Although there are indications that South Africa, too, is beginning to climb out of its recession, recovery could be impeded by high unemployment, low levels of business confidence and rising public debt.
Nevertheless, Government’s commitment to improved housing and service delivery and increased spending on the infrastructure entailed should have a positive spin-off for truck and bus manufacturers.
Pivotal to the implementation of government plans will be the cost-effective transportation of materials, goods and labour to new construction sites. Consequently, the demand for road freight and transport is likely to improve, especially in the short-to-medium-term as preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup reach a climax and large numbers of fans and consumer goods require transport to venues around the country.
With all of this in mind, 21 500 medium- to extra-heavy-duty commercial vehicles and buses are expected to be sold in South Africa during 2010.
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER, has been in this industry for 45 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel, 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.