SA car sales | 6 key insights into how SA's motor industry is trading in 2021

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The AutoTrader mid-year report gives insight into the local car industry.

• Insights show where and how buyers spend their money.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24

Despite challenges the local motor industry faced - and is facing - in 2021, the first half of the year was a telling one for the used car market. AutoTrader released their mid-year car industry report, sharing important information on just how and where South African buyers are putting their money.

AutoTrader CEO George Mienie said when the report was published: "Following the recovery of a disrupted South African auto market, the industry focus now needs to shift to forging a path towards the new normal, one that ensures sustainability for the long term. Car shopping behavioural patterns and journeys were analysed, leading to insights into which makes, models and for the first time in South Africa, which variants (including trim level data) have become important to car-buying consumers."

Let's take a look at six key findings from the 56-page report.

1. Online vehicle searches hit a record high

A whopping 319 million car searches were recorded in the motoring marketplace in the first six months of 2021, representing an all-time high and suggests robust interest in the used market and a strong recovery after a period of uncertainty.

new car,buying a car
Searching for a new car online

2. BMW is once again the most searched for brand

Interestingly, BMW again proved the most searched for brand, accounting for nearly 13% of all brand searches in the reporting period. Toyota's venerable Hilux bakkie was easily the most searched for model overall, while the Volkswagen Golf GTI again proved the most searched for variant. SA's love for VW's hallowed hot hatch is as strong as ever.


3. The coupé has the highest average rand/km driven figure

When shopping for a used car, it's handy to first find out whether the vehicle you're interested in is priced above or below average for that particular body style. The same applies to how many kilometres are on the clock; is the number more or less than average? This sort of data helps consumers to gauge whether or not a vehicle is reasonably priced.

bmw 4 series
2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupé M Performance

4. The Toyota Hilux is the most enquired upon model overall

Which used models do online shoppers show concrete intent to purchase? Well, according to the report, dealerships received just short of 100 000 enquiries on the Toyota Hilux in the first six months of 2021. The Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Polo ranked as the second and third most enquired upon models in the reporting period.


5. The BMW i3 is the most enquired upon electric vehicle

What about electric vehicles (EVs)? Here, the BMW i3 generated the most leads for dealers, accounting for more than half of the total number of EVs listed on the platform and close to 70% of dealer enquiries for such vehicles. Porsche's Taycan ranked second, while the Jaguar I-Pace took third place.

6. SA's attitude to EVs is starting to change

A detailed survey on EVs was included in the report, with respondents intriguingly ranking safety as the most important consideration when purchasing a battery-powered car, ahead of factors such as battery efficiency, environmental friendliness and even price. This suggests SA's attitude towards EVs is finally starting to shift.

Mienie concludes: "It's been a fascinating six months for the automotive industry as it looks to be recovering from the initial impact of the national lockdown. Perhaps most interesting is the fact our survey indicates South Africans are beginning to change their viewpoints on EVs."

George Mienie, jaguar i-pace, ev
AutoTrader CEO George Mienie with his new 2021 Jaguar I-Pace
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