Saturday, 9 January 2010


FOTON SAYS: Foton South Africa has announced the launch of its new 15-seater minibus taxi, the Inkunzi, which will be available for under R200 000.

The Foton Inkunzi, meaning Bull in Zulu, is produced at the Beiqi Foton Motor Company in China, which was founded in 1996 and currently employs around 26 000 people.

Foton is China’s largest commercial vehicle maker and the second largest in the world and is now set to make an impact on the South African market with some exciting products in months ahead.

The first of which is the Inkunzi, a genuine long wheelbase 15-seater minibus that balances style with the practicality that is so important in the taxi sector of public transport. It meets the very latest standards that require an escape hatch to be fitted in the roof and it has undergone a full complement of tests, including rollover tests, to ensure it provides passengers with the highest level of safety.

“The minibus taxi industry is going through some major and very positive changes and here Foton is set to provide a new standard in comfortable, safe and affordable transport solutions that meet the demands of the taxi recapitalisation process,” said Brett Soso, managing director of Foton SA, a division of Amalgamated Automobile Distributors.

Inside, the Inkunzi is spacious with plenty of head and legroom for all 14 passengers and an easy opening tailgate for luggage. Up front the driver also has plenty of space incorporating a modern and well laid out dashboard where all the controls fall easily to hand.

The Inkunzi is powered by a robust multi-point electronically controlled 2.2-litre petrol engine, which is coupled to a 5-speed transmission, and delivers 76kW of power at 4 600 rpm and 193Nm of  torque at 2 600 rpm. 

As the Inkunzi is intended a commuter bus, the suspension and seats was specifically designed with this purpose in mind.  Front suspension is provided by an independent wishbone system with torsion and stabiliser bars, while a rigid axle with leaf springs does duty in the rear.

“As the taxi industry is revitalised to provide convenient, safe and efficient transport for 2010 and beyond, Foton is set to be a key player in moving the nation,” said Soso.

“We are committed to provide customers with a good value proposition, not just in terms of the initial purchase, but also in their overall ownership experience, including after sales support,” said Soso.

Amalgamated Automobile Distributors is co-owned by leading motor retailers, McCarthy Motor Holdings and Imperial Holdings. 

Foton Inkunzi Pricing
Foton Inkunzi Taxi LWB           R199 900 including VAT

Friday, 8 January 2010


SUZUKI SAYS: While South African passenger car sales continued to decline during 2009, Suzuki Auto South Africa (SASA) ended the year with a flourish by recording its best-ever monthly sales performance in SA to date.

SASA’s December 2009 sales tally of 557 units is not only the highest since the company officially commenced retail operations locally 19 months ago, but also represents a new market share record of 3.46 percent.

What makes the achievement even more remarkable is that Suzuki Auto managed to up its sales to new heights in a month with fewer than usual selling days, due to the large number of public holidays. This contributed to the new car market’s second-worst sales month of 2009.


The global financial meltdown that began in 2008 and its far reaching economic consequences took a heavy toll on vehicle sales in South Africa last year. Total sales slumped 25.9% below the 2008 level, with light commercial vehicles and trucks showing far bigger declines than was the case for passenger cars.

Commenting on the annual sales results released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) and Associated Motor Holdings (AMH) this week, the CEO of McCarthy Limited, Brand Pretorius, said this was the biggest year-on-year decline in history, with the previous low point having been a 24,8% fall in sales between 1984 and 1985.

He said there were a number of reasons for the decline over and above the main reason, namely the South African economy going into a recession for the first time in 17 years.
Addressing a media briefing at the OR Tambo International Airport, Pretorius said major contributors to this situation were low levels of business and consumer confidence, the ratio of household debt to disposable income being close to a record high at 78.2% and tight lending criteria at financial institutions.

The prevailing recessionary conditions have resulted in employment levels showing the steepest decline in 50 years, with an estimated one million jobs lost, gross fixed capital formation shrinking, company liquidations up 27% from January to November and credit demand from households falling for the first time in 43 years last October.

Pretorius added that the local motor industry was affected by a number of other factors too. These included a deterioration in vehicle affordability, a substantial drop in the credit approval ratio, an ever-lengthening replacement cycle of new cars from 29 months in 2006 to 41 months at present, and fleet-owners postponing vehicle replacements.

Total vehicle sales, including those by AMH, which does not give a detailed sales breakdown to Naamsa, totalled 395 230 in 2009, compared to 533 387 a year previously, which was, in turn, way below the high point of the record 714 316 units sold in 2006.

Passenger car sales were down 21.6%, on the 2008 figure while 30.3% less light commercial vehicles were retailed and medium and heavy commercial vehicle sales tumbled by 40.4% and 48.0% respectively. Interestingly the latter category had held up best when the economic downturn first hit the industry in 2008.

The CEO of Bidvest-owned McCarthy Limited said that sales to rental companies underpinned passenger vehicle sales in 2009, accounting for 15.2% of volume, compared to 9.4% five years previously. Dealers were the big losers with a 28.5% drop in retail sales.

The market share of small cars showed a modest decline compared to 2008, but it still remained the largest segment. The large, sports and exotic categories remain the same, while the medium segment gained share.  Recreational vehicles showed further growth and this category now accounts for 20% of the total car market.

The overall commercial vehicle market tumbled by a massive 32.8% from the 2008 figure, which in turn had been 15.4% down on the record sales of almost 250 000 units in 2007 and equated to a decline in volume of almost 50% in two years.

*Picture from


FORD SAYS: Ford Motor Company announced today that it is teaming up with Ken Block, the California-based action sports icon-turned-rally driver, for future global motorsports opportunities.

Block, the 2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year and a three-time medalist at X Games, has cultivated a tremendous following with his Gymkhana videos on YouTube.  In 2010, Block will campaign a Ford Focus in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and a Ford Fiesta in Rally America and X Games.


Alfred Dimora’s Natalia SLS is coming along nicely, although it will most certainly divide opinion. Nevertheless the US$2 million luxury car’s development is at an advanced stage, although a release and launch date have not been set yet.

These artist renderings from the company itself show a clear indication of where it’s going in terms of styling direction and where the lines are. We can see the LED daytime running lights at the front, suicide doors, and 8 tailpipes under the rear bumper.

We don’t know which will be more expensive; the Bugatti Calibier or this Natalia SLS. We know the latter will cost a tidy sum of US$2 million but the French? Well, time will tell.


VW SAYS: Three Volkswagen Race Touaregs continue to lead the Dakar Rally after Thursday’s 418-km sixth stage from Antofagasta to Iquique in Chile.  Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz extended their lead over team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Timo Gottschalk of Germany to 15min 24sec.

American Mark Miller and South African Ralph Pitchford, winners of Wednesday’s stage, remain third overall and have closed the gap to Al-Attiyah to 2min 23sec.