Friday, 8 May 2009


FORD SAYS: Team Ford Racing is eager to impress in front of their home crowd with its new diesel powered derivatives at round three of this year’s ABSA Off Road Championship. The Nissan Sugarbelt 400 will take place in KwaZulu-Natal on 15 and 16 May. Centred around the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club the event is sure to attract an enthusiastic audience.

The Ford Ranger 3,2TDCi enjoyed its season debut at the previous event with Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer piloting the model and Thomas Rundle and Hennie ter Stege in the sister SP vehicle. By all accounts the team enjoyed a strong debut and will be aiming to build on their progress on the Sugarbelt event.

“We always enjoy this event,” says Team Manager Woolridge. “The local fans really support us and we’ll be doing our best to give them something to cheer about. The Ranger 3,2TDCi’s had a good debut last time out. We weren’t without problems but that is part and parcel with introducing a new car and we will just have to work through the minor glitches that come our way.”

In 2008 the Ford team enjoyed two podium placings on the Sugarbelt event. With the team based in the area it is an event they hold close to their hearts.

Teammates Rundle and ter Stege who joined the team at the start of the season have settled down quickly into the team and are eager to score points. “Organisers have indicated that we are going to need to work hard for our results,” says Rundle. “They have set out a tight route that incorporates a variety of terrain. We are going to have to be on our game if we want to repeat the strong results we achieved at the previous outing.”

Baphumze Rubuluza and Khulile Vakalisa will represent Team Ford Racing in Class E in a 3.0 TDCi Ranger. “We were pleased to get a podium placing at the previous round in the Eastern Cape. We have a lot of confidence in the car and are looking forward to getting down to business and challenging for top honours in our class,” says Rubuluza.

The action gets underway at the Beaumont Eston Farmer’s Club on May 15.

“The whole team is looking forward to the event. The organisers have put together some challenging route thus far this season and I’m sure they will continue the trend for this event. Nonetheless we are confident of a strong result,” concludes Woolridge.


RENAULT SAYS: Renault South Africa achieved a market share of 2% in the passenger car segment reflecting a 0.6% increase compared to April 2008.

With new car sales for April 2009 decreasing by 37.5% compared to April 2008 together with NAAMSA’s statement that the past month saw the largest year-on-year monthly decline in new car sales in 24 years, this bodes well for Renault SA.

Since the beginning of 2009, the French marque has steadily gained market share with April‘s figure reflecting the best market share earned in the four months to date. Renault SA’s solid performance came in spite of the market’s downward trend amplification during April.

Despite positive movement by the Rand which has reached its highest level against the Euro since
February 2008 - and a further 1% reduction in the interest rate, access to credit continues to restrain the market. In addition, the majority of manufacturers have implemented heavy price increases over the past two months while reduced trading days resulting from four public holidays have also contributed to the lowest sales recorded during April over the past seven years.

While sales of new vehicles are expected to remain under pressure in the short- to medium-term, Renault SA is optimistic of a revival in consumer expenditure. This would come as a result of lower interest rates which, together with government spending, would serve to lend support to the domestic market during the second half of the year.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


An agreement between Fiat and Chrysler will see the Italian company take an initial stake of 20% in its new American partner. Effectively the agreement means that Fiat now owns Chrysler. Chrysler produces cars, SUVs, vans and MPVs under the brands Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. Fiat has the right to up its stake in Chrysler up to 49% of equity until Chrysler pays back the bailout loans it was given by the US government. Thereafter Fiat would presumable buy up all of Chrysler thus creating the fourth biggest motor company in the world after Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford.

Soon the two will start sharing platforms, technologies, engines and distribution expertise. Basically Fiat is interested in re-entering the US market where its Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands have virtually no presence. Chrysler is just interested in staying alive for the time being and that means caving in to a possible white knight in the form of Fiat Auto.

The Fiat/ Chrysler tie-up makes sense on a product level where Fiat is good at producing small and medium cars while Chrysler specialises in the bigger product like Dodge Rams and Chrysler Voyagers. If it’s true that Chrysler has an ambition to take on Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz then there might also be some in-house competition with Fiat’s Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands.

What does this mean to the South African owners of Chrysler products? Pretty much nothing at the moment. The company says warranties will continue to be honoured as usual, service centres are still open for business and potential customers are most welcome to buy their favourite Chrysler/ Dodge/ Jeep product. Dealerships that currently exist in the old dual DaimlerChrysler system will also stay as is for the time being.

Recently rumours have emerged which suggested that Fiat is on a warpath of acquisitions. It is thought that the company is also bidding for GM’s European assets, namely Opel and SAAB. Should this really happen it would create the second biggest automaker in the world.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


The Volkswagen Polo is still South Africa’s most popular passenger car. Figures released today show the Polo sold 1 492 units in the month of April 2009 to cap a total of 3 843 passenger cars for VW last month. The nearest rival to VW sold 1 000 fewer cars than the German group.

Audi, despite tough market conditions,” said VWSA Sales and Marketing Director Mike Glendinning, “continued its momentum in the Premium segment with the sale of a noteworthy 650 units during April, capturing 3.9% share of the passenger market and 20% of the Premium market.”

The total market for passenger cars was 16 748 in April which was a 38.8% dip on April 2009 and 28.3% down on March 2009. The market it seems, is still not ready to recover despite successive rate cuts by the Reserve Bank. South Africans are just too much in debt to be thinking about buying new cars.


MCCARTHY MOTORS SAYS: April was a most disappointing month for the South African motor industry due primarily to the limited number of selling days, the focus on the national election and some pre-price increase buying in March.

As a result, the total sales of 26 283 units reported to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) and Associated Motor Holdings (AMH), were 43.1% down on April 2008’s figures. This was the lowest monthly sales total since December 2003, when 23 040 vehicles were sold.

Looking at the individual market segments, the commercial vehicle segment was particularly hard hit, with a sales decline of almost 50% on April 2008. Light Commercial Vehicles recorded a 49.5% drop in sales, totalling 8 024 units in April. A decrease of 45.9% brought the Medium Commercial Vehicle segment to a total of 691 units. A total of only 820 Heavy Commercial Vehicles was retailed during April, a significant drop of 60.9%.

“I believe we have now reached the lowest point in terms of monthly sales, and I am confident that we’ll see a gradual improvement going forward,” stated Brand Pretorius, chairman of McCarthy Motor Holdings.

“Both business and consumer confidence are benefiting from the significant reduction in the prime lending rate and confirmation that inflation is declining. In addition, major sports events like the IPL Cricket, Confederations Cup Soccer, the Lions tour and the FIFA World Cup Soccer, are having a favourable impact on overall sentiment in the country.”

Pretorius also said the fact that the general election went off smoothly, had a positive affect on confidence levels.

Also, whereas a significant deterioration in new vehicle affordability was anticipated earlier this year, the recent strength of the Rand should now inhibit price increases to a degree, which is good news for private and corporate buyers alike.

“Taking all of these factors into consideration, we foresee an improved second half of the year,” said Pretorius. On a year-to-date basis, the total market reflects a drop of 36.4% to 201 473 units, but it is anticipated that sales for the full year should not be down more than 30% on sales recorded in 2008.