The data is in: Here's which vehicles South Africans searched for most in 2021 to date

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2020 Ford Ranger Thunder
2020 Ford Ranger Thunder

• AutoTrader released its mid-year report on local used-car searches.

• The data relays information on which vehicles prospective are interested in most.

• More than 319 million searches were conducted between January and June 2021.

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AutoTrader has released its mid-year report on data accumulated over 2021's first six months. The data relays South Africans' search patterns and interest in vehicles on the used-car market. According to AutoTrader, more than 319 million online vehicle searches were conducted in 2021's first half - an all-time record high.

The searches made by South Africans cover a variety of vehicles and body types, all ranging in a wide price band. And though the majority of searches are of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, locals' interest in electric vehicles (EVs) have increased as well. It is a good sign of our countrymen's uptake of electric mobility as the world moves in this direction. The local market is also recovering well from the damning effects of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, and consumers' trust has taken a strong uptake in 2021.

AutoTrader CEO George Mienie explains: "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."

2021 BMW 320i

The most-searched

In 2021's first half, South Africans have been quite clear on which vehicles they are interested in most. In a turn of events, the über-popular Volkswagen Golf GTI was not the most-searched model variant, but rather the Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 model. According to the data provided by AutoTrader, this Hilux model accounted for more than 2.6 million, or 1.78%, of searches out of the total 319 million. The Golf GTI ranked second on 2.2 million searches (1.49%).

Overall, the Hilux was the most-searched model in 2021's first half, followed by the BMW 3 Series and the VW Golf. Interestingly, while the Ford Ranger, the Hilux's closest rival, was the sixth-most model searched, none of its variants was among the Top 10 Variants searched by consumers. This is, of course, no indication of buyers' purchasing intention because, where it mattered, the Ranger was the second most-enquired on vehicle for the year so far.

As per the data available to us, 19.5% of searchers enquired about the Toyota Hilux, while 14.2% wanted more information on the Ford Ranger. While Isuzu made no impression on the Top 10 for both Models and Variants, its KB bakkie rounded out the Top 10 for Most Enquired Models. 4.9% of users enquired about the KB, which indicates the strong brand power Isuzu has in South Africa, and the trust consumers have in a name that's become synonymous with locals.

AutoTrader Mid-Year Report: January 2021 - June 2021
AutoTrader Mid-Year Report: January 2021 - June 2021
AutoTrader Mid-Year Report: January 2021 - June 2021

Embracing the future

While a small percentage of the accumulative data gathered, electric vehicles have become one of the biggest talking points in recent years. Of the searches conducted in 2021's first half, more than 285 000 were on EVs. Over 2020, EV searches had increased by 211%, which AutoTrader attributes to the Porsche Taycan and Mini Cooper SE entering the market, EV education, and an increase in the support given to South African EV owners.

With more EVs scheduled to enter the local market towards year-end and 2022, it is safe to conclude that the searches for this form of motoring will increase. And though the local EV offering is rather scant - 92 EVs were sold locally in 2020 - it is the foundation phase as the country adopts the future.

AutoTrader Mid-Year Report: January 2021 - June 2021
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