As South Africans returned to work and families anticipate the start of school, the final new vehicle sales data for 2019 has also been released.
The numbers for 2019 can now be totaled and collated, with the inclusion of December data being the missing element. It is no secret that 2019 was a fraught year for vehicle sales and the overall South African economy. Eskom power outages and lackluster growth significantly buffered the opportunity for promising overall vehicle sales.
By far the most important single vehicle segment, and an excellent barometer of real South African economic health, is the bakkie market.
When bakkie sales are strong, it shows that there is a notable activity in small business growth, delivery logistics, and large scale industrialisation. Bakkies are used by farmers, entrepreneurs, artisans, and on big civil and mining contracts. If bakkie sales are surging, it is an indication of robust economic activity.
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Nothing stops Hilux
Although the market struggled in 2019, Toyota remained dominant. Hilux crushed its rivals and finished the year with 40 934 unit sales.
To understand the scale of Hilux’s dominance, consider its nearest rival, from Ford. Total Ranger sales came to 25 042, which means that Toyota’s margin of dominance was an astounding 60%.South Africa’s third most popular bakkie overall, for 2019, was Nissan’s compact NP200. Despite Nissan achieving 17 937 sales of its sub-1t bakkie, the NP200’s popularity severely tapered throughout 2019. In August and September, Nissan managed to sell more than 2000 NP200s per month, yet by December, they were down to only 498 units.
Isuzu’s 1-ton bakkies were South Africa’s fourth most popular in 2019, with a year-end total of 16 155 units. There is a significant drop-off in sales between Isuzu’s D-Max/KB range in fourth, and the fifth most successful bakkie, which was Nissan’s NP300.The aging Nissan one-tonner bakkie dipped below 10 000 units for 2019, with its end total being 8991.
Other established double-cab bakkies of interest are VW’s Amarok and Nissan’s Navara. The German bakkie had a respectable 2019, considering its narrow model range, selling a total of 2596. This number positioned it significantly ahead of Nissan’s Navara, which is also a bakkie range only comprising of double-cabs. Navara managed only 1581 total sales for the year.
A rising oil price might lift SA’s bakkie tide
With South African economic activity projected to remain unchanged for 2020, the overall bakkie ranking won’t alter much. Expect Toyota to possibly increase its dominance and Isuzu to achieve slightly more success with its new-generation D-Max, which might arrive at dealerships later this year.
Although it has two of South Africa’s most popular overall bakkies in its product portfolio, Nissan could find 2020 to be challenging. NP200 sales are narrowing, and the NP300 is an old platform. The international structural pressure on Nissan’s global business could also influence production priorities at Nissan’s Rosslyn assembly plant.
One aspect that would be good for Nissan’s export business from South Africa, and this is something which applies to other brands which also produce bakkies locally, is the oil price.
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With Middle-Eastern instability, oil prices are predicted to rise sharply in 2020. Higher oil price revenues usually trigger a strong demand for bakkies from various African markets that have established oil industries. And those bakkies are mostly sourced from South Africa.
If you are a brand with a strong local production capacity and distribution network into Africa, 2020 could be a stellar year for business.Image: MotorPress