South African Vehicle Sales Surge 30% as Interest Rates Drop for 3rd Time

South African vehicle sales surged 30 percent in November from a year earlier after the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for a third time this year, fueling spending.

A total of 44,371 vehicles were sold last month, the Pretoria-based National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement today. Sales growth accelerated from 22 percent in October.

The Reserve Bank cut its repurchase rate by half a percentage point to 5.5 percent on Nov. 18, the ninth reduction since December 2008, spurring spending in Africa’s biggest economy. Vehicle exports have also rebounded, adding to the recovery in manufacturing, which makes up 15 percent of the economy.

“New vehicle sales over the medium term will remain a function of the performance of the domestic economy and, in the case of export sales, the sustainability of the recovery in the global economy,” the association said.

Car exports climbed 24 percent to 28,550 as production recovered from strikes in August and September, the association said.

Passenger car sales will probably increase between 7.5 percent and 10 percent in 2011, while commercial vehicles such as minivans and pick-up trucks are estimated to increase 15 percent, the association said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nasreen Seria in Johannesburg at nseria@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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