The Durban Car Terminal (DCT) has set a new yearly record of handling 531 755 fully built-up units over the 12- month period ended March 31.
The recovery from Covid-19 is happening sooner than expected in the automotive industry, with car hire companies refleeting as the domestic hospitality industry reopens, and as back orders from preceding years start to materialise, says Durban Terminals acting managing executive Kwazi Mabaso.
The DCT’s volumes dwindled to 323 300 fully built-up units in the Covid-19-affected year ended March 31, 2021.
The product mix for the 12-month period to the end of March this year saw imports contributing 53% of overall volumes, comprising mainly entry-level cars.
There has also been a surge in transshipments as the appetite for used cars within South Africa and neighbouring countries continues to grow, reports the DCT.
Transshipments contributed 12% to overall volumes, at just more than 60 000 fully built-up units – a volume increase of 55% year-on-year.
Used cars imported solely for the South African market made up 2% of overall volumes.
Despite parts and semiconductor chip shortages, vehicle export volumes from South Africa improved significantly from the previous year, to 34% of overall volumes, reports the DCT.
These latest numbers signal a significant change in the traditional import-export mix, with Transnet noting in August last year that the facility typically handles more than 520 000 fully built-up units a year, with 55% being exports (now 34%), 10% transshipments (now 12%), and the remaining 35% imports (now 53%).
This means there has been a significant drop in exports, and an even more significant surge in imports, mostly budget market vehicles, going through the Port of Durban.
The DCT is the biggest car terminal in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Asian imports like Haval, GWM, Suzuki, Hyundai, Chery and JAC are doing particularly well in the entry-level category and are expected to continue in the current financial year,” says Mabaso.
He adds that, while volume projections were promising at the beginning of the year, automotive manufacturers are now expected to feel the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as many carmakers source wire harnesses from Ukraine. The availability of semiconductor chips is also compromising export volumes.
Mabaso says a recent benchmark exercise in Thailand will help the DCT enhance its service offering through a review of yard planning, allowing for ample preloading space that will ensure no vehicles are received on berth.
“Our relationship with industry is pro-South Africa. The collaboration we have with [car] manufacturers and shipping lines is exemplary and can only grow from here on as we focus our energies on customer centricity.”
Mabaso notes that the terminal has created additional waterside capacity to keep up with demand.
The DCT forms part of a network of 19 Transnet port terminals.