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It’s been a bumpy couple of years for the South African motor industry, with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and stock shortages exacerbating an already bleak situation underpinned by a poor-performing local economy. But the automotive sector is nothing if not resilient.
The latest data released by leading motoring portal Cars.co.za provides some fascinating insights into the year that was 2021.
“Looking at our headline numbers, most South African car buyers are still searching for cars priced in the R200 000 to R300 000 bracket,” says Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager Hannes Oosthuizen.
“The average price (for submitted enquiries) worked out to R236 900, which is slightly higher than the average in 2020. The R200 000 to R300 000 segment alone accounts for 20,6% of enquiries (also called “leads”) submitted on Cars.co.za during 2021, with the segment for cars priced between R150 000 and R200 000 slotting into second place, with a share of 16,34%.
“In third place is the R300 000 to R399 000 segment, with a 11,82% share of enquiries. Deeper analysis shows that higher-price segments have grown fairly significantly compared with 2020.”
Mileage appears to be less of a concern compared with previous years. The segment for vehicles with a mileage of between 100 000 and 194 999 km did, however, garner the most enquiries (20,33%) on Cars.co.za during 2021, and the average mileage was 109 600 km.
Interestingly, there was significant growth in terms of enquiries for vehicles with higher mileage (which at least partly will be stock availability-related). For example, enquiries for vehicles with a mileage between 150 000 km and 199 999 km grew from 11,13% to 12,97%, while requests for vehicles with mileages above 200 000 km rose from 7,28% to 9,1%.
In terms of vehicle age, the overwhelming bulk of enquiries were for vehicles first registered between 2014 and 2018, with vehicles from 2017 slightly edging out the other model years with a share of 8,7%.
“In other words, the used car sweet-spot remains about the same as before – a vehicle that is about 3 years old, with a mileage of just over 100 000 km and priced at around R240 000,” Oosthuizen adds.
South Africa’s favourite Used Car Brands
Based on overall enquiries, there has been little change in the Top 10 ranking of brands, says Oosthuizen, but a deeper dive does indicate that shifts are happening.
“It appears premium brands are slipping slightly, and there is significant movement from 12th place downwards. Remember, it takes time for newer brands to gain traction in the used-car space and for stock of older, discontinued brands/models to work their way out of the system.
That said, Suzuki’s move from 17th to 15th place and Haval’s leap from 30th to 22nd position are the stand-out changes, Oosthuizen notes.
What’s more, even though Chevrolet left the local market in 2017, it is still ranked 10th in terms of enquiries on Cars.co.za, mostly due to the sustained popularity of its Utility pick-up in the used market. The Chevy Ute was the 19th most-requested used vehicle on Cars.co.za last year.
“Interestingly, the budget-friendly Datsun brand slipped from 24th to 27th place, only one position ahead of Porsche,” he adds.
Top 10 Used Car Brands in SA 2021 (based on share of total enquiries on Cars.co.za)
The rise and fall of models
“Firstly, to provide some context, it is worth noting that there were more than 800 individual model types listed for sale on Cars.co.za last year, but the top 100 account for about 80% of enquiries submitted,” says Oosthuizen.
“As with brands, model rankings change quite slowly, as newly launched vehicles take some time to reach the used market in sufficient numbers to make a notable impact. Similarly, older vehicles that used to sell in large numbers when new, can remain popular for a very long time,” Oosthuizen says, again pointing to the Chevrolet Utility as an example.
The biggest mover in the Top 20 was the enduring Nissan NP200, which vaulted 5 places to 10th, while the biggest loser was the Ford Fiesta, which fell out of the top ten to finish 12th. The highest new entry on the list was the Haval Jolion, which, even though it was only launched in 2021, finished the year in a strong 133th place.
Top 10 Used Car Models in SA 2021 (based on share of total enquiries on Cars.co.za)
|4.||BMW 3 Series||3,39%|
|6.||Volkswagen Polo Vivo||3,24%|
Note that the Isuzu KB and D-Max are recorded as separate models, but as they are effectively the same product (the former’s name changed to the latter in 2018), one could argue that their enquiries should be combined. If that is done, the Isuzu actually leaps into 9th place overall.