South African Car Market Sees Resilient Top Sellers in 2023

  • Despite economic challenges and rising living costs, South Africa's car market in October 2023 witnessed a 2% decline in aggregate new vehicle sales compared to the previous year.
  • Toyota retained its position as the top-selling carmaker with its popular Hilux model, while Volkswagen and Suzuki secured the second and third spots, respectively, in brand popularity.
  • The Toyota Hilux led the list of best-selling car models in South Africa for October 2023, underscoring the enduring appeal of this vehicle, with Toyota, VW, and Suzuki models dominating the top 10.
Top Sellers in 2023

Despite the ongoing challenges posed by rising living costs and economic strain on businesses and consumers, certain car brands and models continue to capture the hearts of South African motorists. In October 2023, these resilient vehicles demonstrated their enduring popularity, highlighting the choices of South African consumers who were able to purchase new cars during this period.

According to the latest New Vehicle Sales statistics from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), aggregate domestic new vehicle sales in October 2023 reached 45,445 units. However, this figure represented a decline of 905 units or a 2% decrease compared to the 46,350 vehicles sold in October 2022. Notably, this marked the third consecutive month of decline in the South African new vehicle market.

The report from Naamsa delved deeper into the data, revealing that the new passenger car market, comprising 29,912 units, had experienced a decline of 1,068 cars, equating to a 3.5% drop, compared to the 30,980 new cars sold in October 2022. Interestingly, this decline occurred despite car rental sales contributing a substantial 18.3% share, accounting for 5,468 units of new passenger vehicle sales.

Another significant segment of the South African automotive market is domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies, and mini-buses, which amounted to 12,361 units in October 2023. Unfortunately, this segment also recorded a decline, with 387 fewer units sold, representing a 3% loss compared to the 12,748 light commercial vehicles sold in October 2022.

The report emphasized that the persisting economic strain on both businesses and consumers continued to have a direct impact on new vehicle sales, contributing to the ongoing decline in the industry.

Despite these challenges, certain car brands maintained their popularity among South African consumers. Toyota, with its renowned Hilux bakkie, retained its title as South Africa’s best-selling carmaker, having sold 12,440 vehicles. Toyota’s success was attributed to the sustained popularity of the Hilux model. Volkswagen (VW) secured its position as the second most popular brand, with 6,595 units sold, while Suzuki took the third spot with 4,480 units sold.

Remarkably, Toyota comprised an impressive 27.3% of all vehicles sold last month, surpassing the combined sales of VW (14.5%) and Suzuki (9.9%), which made up 24.3% of all vehicles sold in South Africa during the same period.

Analyzing the distribution of vehicle sales, of the total reported industry sales of 46,021 vehicles, 80.2% were attributed to dealer sales, 12.9% to the vehicle rental industry, 4.1% to the government, and 2.8% to corporate industry fleets.

The top 10 brands that recorded the highest car sales in October 2023 were as follows:

  1. Toyota – 12,440 units
  2. Volkswagen Group – 6,595 units
  3. Suzuki – 4,480 units
  4. Hyundai – 2,638 units
  5. Ford – 2,318 units
  6. Nissan – 2,178 units
  7. Isuzu – 1,848 units
  8. Renault – 1,606 units
  9. Kia – 1,417 units
  10. Haval – 1,389 units

In addition to brand popularity, specific car models also showcased their strength in the South African market during October 2023. The Toyota Hilux took the top spot as South Africa’s best-selling vehicle for the month, with an impressive 3,110 units sold, accounting for 6.8% of all cars sold. Toyota also had four models in the top 10 best-selling cars, including the Hilux (1st), Toyota Corolla Cross (3rd), Toyota Hi-Ace (5th), and the Toyota Starlet (7th).

Following a one-month reign at the top in April, the new Ford Ranger ranked 4th in October, selling 2,413 units and dropping one place from 3rd in September. The second and third most popular brands, VW and Suzuki, also featured models in the top ten – the VW Polo Vivo (2nd), the VW Polo (9th), and the Suzuki Swift (8th).

The top 10 best-selling models in October 2023, including the abovementioned models, along with their respective starting prices and units sold, are as follows:

Toyota Hilux – 3,110 units sold, starting price: R356,600

VW Polo Vivo – 2,280 units sold, starting price: R255,600

Toyota Corolla Cross – 2,100 units sold, starting price: R408,400

Ford Ranger – 1,853 units sold, starting price: R494,400

Toyota Hiace – 1,546 units sold, starting price: R543,900

Isuzu D-Max – 1,464 units sold, starting price: R442,800

Toyota Starlet – 1,363 units sold, starting price: R252,100

Suzuki Swift – 1,248 units sold, starting price: R199,900

VW Polo – 1,235 units sold, starting price: R343,100

Nissan NP200 – 961 units sold, starting price: R234,000

These statistics offer a comprehensive view of the South African automotive landscape in October 2023, highlighting the challenges and triumphs of the industry while showcasing the enduring appeal of specific car brands and models among South African consumers.

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