A decade ago the South African market was awash in Chinese and Indian bakkies, with new brands seemingly launching product each quarter.
It appeared that some traditional bakkie manufacturers were at risk of having their cheaper derivates made redundant, by this uncontained march of affordability from continental Asia.
Brand trading credibility
Over time, though, most of these brands have disappeared from the local market, with only a few proving to have the quality to endure. One of those has been Mahindra, which can rightly claim its presence in the local market, after a stellar 2018.
Marketing a blend of crossovers, SUVs and bakkies, Mahindra is now effectively the only Indian automotive brand trading with any credibility in South Africa, after its rival, Tata, has seen sales almost entirely collapse.
Despite a torrid 2018 for the local automotive market, with a total contraction of 1%, Mahindra avoided any trace of that trend in its own business, by ending 2018 with cumulative sales increasing 26%, year-on-year.
Those numbers quantified to a market presence of 5486 units. Anchoring Mahindra’s Mzansi business are its bakkies, which are now considered a credible alternative for anyone shopping around the R300 000 price point.
No longer a stop-gap
Having established its presence in the local bakkie market with Bolero (a R200 000 price point proposition), acceptance for the more expensive and advanced Scorpio Pik Up is evidence of Mahindra no longer being considered merely a bargain buy stop-gap.
Last month the brand sold a total of 350 bakkies and the proportion of Bolero to Scorpio Pik Up vindicates this assumption.
Image: Sergio Davids/Wheels24
Dissecting the Mahindra bakkie sales numbers, only 19% were the more affordable Bolero, with a balance of 76% being the more expensive Scorpio, with the remainder, a smidge over 4%, accreted to Genio.
The serves as clear evidence that Mahindra bakkie buyers are no longer simple bargain hunters, looking for the cheapest way to move things around.
Beyond its healthy bakkie business, Mahindra’s combined SUV/utility market presence has it ranking ahead of some recognised brand names in South Africa.
In January, Mahindra delivered a total of 644 new vehicles to South African owners, which classified it as a larger presence than Honda, Opel and Mitsubishi.
Testament to the confidence of Mahindra are its Karoo edition Scorpio Pik Up bakkies, revealed late last year, with another derivate announced this month.
The company’s SUV offering should be bolstered soon, too, with the arrival of its most sophisticated vehicle yet, the XUV300.
Many continental Asian vehicle manufacturers have tried and failed to convince the South African bakkie buying public of their abilities over the last decade.
Mahindra, by contrast, has grown. Appreciably. To a point where it is on the cusp of becoming one of South Africa’s top ten automotive brands.