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New data tracks SA's vehicle sales performance over the last decade

While vehicle prices have risen year-on-year, the volume of sales have not. SA's automotive industry has over the last decade been impacted by difficult economic times, a depreciating rand, and more recently, Covid-19.
While vehicle prices have risen year-on-year, the volume of sales have not. SA's automotive industry has over the last decade been impacted by difficult economic times, a depreciating rand, and more recently, Covid-19.
Image: freeograph / 123rf

SA’s automotive industry has over the last decade been impacted by difficult economic times, from international credit downgrades to a depreciating rand, and more recently, Covid-19. However, there are signs of opportunity and growth that a changing country has to offer.

While vehicle prices have risen year-on-year, the volume of sales have not. Lightstone data has revealed that 340,000 new vehicles were sold through the dealer network in 2011, but this dropped to 306,000 in 2019, a 10% decline. Notably, the average new vehicle price has moved from R290,000 to R440,000. 

Lightstone data tracking vehicle car sales in SA from 1994 to 2020.
Lightstone data tracking vehicle car sales in SA from 1994 to 2020.
Image: Supplied

“Our currency halving in value (from R7:$1 to R14:$1), the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rising by 67% and our population increasing by 15% from 50-million to 60-million people (14.5-million to 17.5-million households, or from 30-million to 38-million adults over the age of 20) has contributed to this industry’s performance over the last 10 years," says Pieter Wessels, MD of Lightstone Auto.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns resulted in the domestic new vehicle market in 2020 falling to 233,000.

“The challenge facing government and business is to manage through the pandemic and rebuild the economy and new vehicle sales," adds Wessels.

Comparing new double cab and passenger car sales in SA from 2011 to 2021.
Comparing new double cab and passenger car sales in SA from 2011 to 2021.
Image: Supplied

Though passenger car sales have been declining gradually after the highs of 2012 and 2013, double cabs have shown signs of increased sales. This may be partly due to the poor state of many roads, and the flexibility that a double cab offers. Today, one double cab is sold for every six passenger vehicles sold, compared to one in 12 a decade ago, as illustrated in the graph below.

In 2011, 17 out of every 100 new passenger vehicles sold (including double cabs) were Volkswagen and 15 were Toyota. Both vehicle brands account for 18 out of every 100 sold in 2019.

Passenger vehicles per double cab from 2011 to 2021.
Passenger vehicles per double cab from 2011 to 2021.
Image: Supplied

In terms of colour, buyers preferred silver, grey and white in 2011, but white is now the most popular, with silver and grey the runner-up. Less buyers preferred black vehicles, with just two out of every 100 cars sold now being black, compared to five out of 100 a decade ago. This can be attributed to white cars retaining their resale value and being easier and more cost effective to repair.

“While there is evidence that the industry has recovered to a degree, we will continue to collect and monitor industry trends to establish how lockdowns and the recent unrest in parts of the country will impact the market,” Wessels concludes.


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