Volkswagen Polo involved in highest number of car crashes in SA - study finds

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2022 Volkswagen Polo
2022 Volkswagen Polo

• A report by the RTMC reveals that Volkswagen Polo is involved in the highest number of car crashes. 

• Of the fatal crashes in the reviewed period, Polo vehicles were involved in 16.7% of crashes.

• The other two vehicles with the highest fatality percentage are Toyota's Hilux and Quantum.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24


A study by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), titled South African Fatal Crashes in Context, found that Volkswagen Polo cars are involved in most car crashes in South Africa. The drivers of these popular cars also account for the highest number of speed infringement fines issued, the RTMC adds.

Analysing fatal crash data from 1 October 2017 to 30 June 2021 and AARTO speed infringement data from 1 January 2019 to 20 June 2021, the findings make for shocking results.

The RTMC confirms that of the top 20 vehicles involved in fatal crashes, the Polo, Toyota Hilux, and Toyota Quantum accounted for 43.2% of fatal crashes. The report further states that "a total of 48 330 vehicles were involved in 37 583 fatal crashes with 45 232 deaths during the period."

Click here to read the full report.

The data further reveals that Polo cars contributed to 16.7% of all fatal crashes on South African roads during the period listed above. The Hilux was second on 14.2%, just ahead of the Quantum (12.2%). These three vehicles are the most popular in South Africa, but they also accounted for the highest number of speed infringements - 35% - over the reviewed period.

As one of the best-selling vehicles in South Africa, the Polo sells, on average, more than 1 500 units per month. This also explains why so many of this model type is involved in road crashes.

WATCH | VW SA celebrates Polo Vivo milestone - 100 000th unit leaves factory

Wheels24 editor Janine Van der Post says: "It's interesting that the RTMC claims that Polo models account for 16.7% of fatal crashes in South Africa without putting into context just how many of these cars are sold monthly. The VW Polo and Polo Vivo have been one of the top-selling models in South Africa for many years. The same applies for the Toyota Hilux, and the Quantum. Naturally, since there is such a high volume of these cars on the road, they are far more likely to be involved in a crash. 

"Volkswagen South Africa would often sell more than 2000 units of the Polo and move similar numbers of the Polo Vivo for consecutive months at a time.

To put some figures into context, the VW plant in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) in the Eastern Cape, celebrated building its 100 000th Polo Vivo of the current generation earlier in January."

Wheels24 reported a total of 350 289 Polo Vivos have been sold between 2010 and 2021, of which 251 726 were during the first generation and 98 563 of the current model (up until December 2021). The best annual sales performance for the current Vivo model was recorded in 2019 when VWSA sold a total of 29 618 Vivos in one year. In terms of monthly performance, the Vivo proved most popular in October 2018, when 3 009 Vivos were sold in a single month.

The local automaker will also be launching the brand new Polo in February, and the appealing vehicle will once again boost numbers for VW. 

More than 73 439 of the sixth-generation Polo has been sold locally since its introduction in 2018, making it the second best-selling vehicle in the passenger market. However, the first generation Polo was introduced to the local market 25 years ago in October 1996.

Steffen Knapp, Head of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand, says: "In 2021 alone, we have sold over 10 000 Polos in the local market giving Volkswagen a share of 21.8% in the A0 Hatch segment." 


Do you agree with the RTMC's findings? Email us your thoughts or use the comment section below to have your say.


Proudly built in SA

The Polo, Hilux, and Quantum are all built in South Africa. The Polo is produced at Volkswagen's production plant in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) in the Eastern Cape, while the Hilux and Quantum are produced at the Japanese automaker's Prospecton plant in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal. South Africans have a fond liking for all three vehicles, with the trio often ruling the roost when it comes to sales.

Toyota Hilux
2022 Toyota Hilux


An undoubted king in the South African context, the Hilux has been the top-selling vehicle for decades, vying for the podium's top spot with the Polo, Polo Vivo, and Ford Ranger. Yet, try as they might, the Hilux is the overall sales leader, often surpassing expectations in all circumstances.

As the best-selling passenger car, the Polo has been produced locally since the 1990s, with Volkswagen Germany acknowledging the Kariega plant as one of its most important. The local arm again won the rights to produce the Polo, and will the heavily updated model be officially launched in February 2022. Volkswagen South Africa is the only global manufacturer of the Polo GTI, from where it is then exported to other markets.

The Quantum is a favourite in the local taxi industry and contributes tremendously to Toyota's production portfolio. However, because the vehicle is predominantly used as public transport, it is unnecessarily driven dangerously. And as a result, they contribute massively to road fatalities.

Touching on all road fatalities involving public transport, the RTMC notes that the high number is unacceptable: "Although it is expected that public transport vehicles will be involved in crashes because they are on the road on a semi-full-time basis and travel more million vehicle kilometres compared to other vehicle models, their contribution to fatalities remains unacceptably high considering that they constitute a mere 3.3% of the total vehicle population."

Note from the editor: This article and the headline has been updated to correctly reflect the results of the RTMC's findings. It has also been updated with commentary from the Wheels24 editor on VW Polo and Polo Vivo sales figures.

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