2011 vs 2021: Which cars are SA motorists buying?

24 December 2021 - 13:34
Compact sport-utility vehicles have become the preferred genre for many SA car shoppers.
Compact sport-utility vehicles have become the preferred genre for many SA car shoppers.
Image: Supplied

According to the department of energy website, the inland price of 95 unleaded petrol was R10.77 in December 2011. Today motorists pay nearly double that.

Such comparisons rarely fail to evoke nostalgia, or induce a wince from motoring consumers. But aside from rising fuel prices, a great deal has changed in the automotive landscape of the country over the past 10 years.

We thought it would be insightful to compare notes from the same month, a decade apart, for a snapshot of how buyers’ tastes and trends have evolved.

The Opel Corsa Utility, later rebranded as a Chevrolet, was a top seller in SA.
The Opel Corsa Utility, later rebranded as a Chevrolet, was a top seller in SA.
Image: Supplied

Cars are more expensive

Before we get to our November 2011 to 2021 contrast, we should talk about the glaring factor that is inflation. There is no way around it: every year, the prices of new vehicles are subject to increases, based on myriad factors largely beyond the control of consumers.

In 2011, the flagship version of the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, the GT, cost R155,320. According to an inflation calculator, this is equivalent to a little over R254,000 today. In 2021, the latest incarnation of the Polo Vivo GT starts at R308,100, but to be fair, it offers considerably more than its first-generation predecessor.

Premium sales today are not as great as they were in the days of the Mercedes-Benz W204 C-Class.
Premium sales today are not as great as they were in the days of the Mercedes-Benz W204 C-Class.
Image: Supplied

Fewer new cars sold in 2021

“November 2011 aggregate industry domestic sales had improved by 5,181 units or 11.7% to reach 49,499 vehicles,” said the report from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa). In November 2021, aggregate domestic new vehicle sales were at the 41,588 mark.

The overall total for 2011 in entirety, including passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, medium trucks, heavy trucks, minibuses and buses, was 570,012 (excluding Mercedes-Benz, who opted not to report that year).

The year-to-date figure at the end of November 2021 was 428,131. It seems unlikely that, even with December sales included, the number would reach what was recorded at the end of 2011. It is worth remembering, of course, that the industry is recovering from the battering dealt by Covid-19.

As before, the Volkswagen Polo nameplate is popular.
As before, the Volkswagen Polo nameplate is popular.
Image: Supplied

Decline of premium

The November 2011 Naamsa market total results placed Mercedes-Benz in sixth and BMW Group just behind it, recording total sales of 2,106 and 1,993 units respectively. Note that the figure for Mercedes-Benz includes its commercial vehicles.

Figures for Audi were reported as part of the overall tally for the Volkswagen Group, but since Naamsa used to offer a drill-down of sales by model, we were able to calculate the German premium brand sold 1,017 cars.

Lexus also has the benefit of being grouped with the overall Toyota number, but individually it mustered 112 sales. Volvo sold 237 units that month and Jaguar Land Rover managed 502.

Fast-forward to November 2021 and the fortunes for these premium brands have changed somewhat. Unfortunately, a sales-by-model picture is no longer offered, but the overall figures according to brand certainly affirms the point that fewer are going the premium route.

The BMW 3-Series is no longer made in SA and its position on the sales charts has dropped.
The BMW 3-Series is no longer made in SA and its position on the sales charts has dropped.
Image: Supplied

BMW Group registered 635 local new vehicle sales in November. Mercedes-Benz reported 454 (excluding trucks and buses). Jaguar Land Rover did 240 units and Volvo claimed 36. Interestingly, Porsche managed to defy the trend. It reported 59 cars in November 2011. In November 2021, the manufacturer tallied 92 sales.

Some things stayed the same

During our chosen month in 2011, Toyota was the best-selling brand overall with a total of 11,419 vehicles, followed by Volkswagen Group with 7,503. In 2021 that remains unchanged: Toyota did 11,892 and its German nemesis reported 5,498.

What did change, however, was the third place spot. It was General Motors SA in 2011 (5,694). Its exit from the market gave rise to players like Suzuki, which ranked third overall last month, selling 3,082 vehicles. Ford remains a top 10 player as it did in 2011, ranking sixth last month (2,245) behind Nissan (2,328), which was fourth overall in November 10 years ago with 4,105 cars. Who was fourth this time around?

The Isuzu D-Max (formerly KB) remains a local staple.
The Isuzu D-Max (formerly KB) remains a local staple.
Image: Supplied

That honour went to Hyundai, reporting 2,869 cars. We are unable to draw a comparison because the brand previously declined to reveal its sales figures.

Isuzu was a former subsidiary of General Motors SA, but continues to operate independently in the wake of the American firm’s exit. It placed seventh overall last month, selling 2,175 units, up from the 1,099 it did a decade before.

Chinese carmaker Haval made a splash in 2021 with newcomers like the Jolion.
Chinese carmaker Haval made a splash in 2021 with newcomers like the Jolion.
Image: Supplied

Eighth and ninth go to Renault and Kia, achieving 2,081 and 2,062 respectively. The French brand was in eighth place in November 2011 too, but with 858 cars. Like Hyundai, Kia did not report figures in 2011.

Among the surprises of November 2021 was the rise of Chinese carmaker Haval, which includes Great Wall Motors (GWM), cracking into the top 10 with 1,730 units. As a group, Stellantis comprises Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, Opel and Peugeot, but it only managed to sell 530 vehicles last month.

From fringe player to heavy-hitter, Suzuki has grown its market share considerably.
From fringe player to heavy-hitter, Suzuki has grown its market share considerably.
Image: Supplied

Before this formation back in 2011, when Chrysler SA included the Jeep and Dodge brands, its November total was 621, while Peugeot and Citroën (PCSA) sold 508 vehicles.

The models Mzansi buys

These were the best-selling 15 cars in SA in November 2011: Toyota Hilux (4,335); Volkswagen Polo Vivo (2,270); Volkswagen Polo (1,855); Toyota Corolla (1,757); Chevrolet Corsa Utility (1,528); Toyota Fortuner (1,222); Toyota Quantum (1,210); Isuzu KB (1,099); Nissan NP 200 (1,096); Chevrolet Aveo (992); Ford Figo (965); Mercedes-Benz C-Class (825); BMW 3-Series (825); Nissan NP300 Hardbody (814); Toyota Yaris (789).

The Toyota Corolla Cross became an overnight sensation.
The Toyota Corolla Cross became an overnight sensation.
Image: Supplied

These were the top 15 performers in November 2021: Toyota Hilux (2,558); Toyota Hi-Ace (1,763); Toyota Corolla Cross (1,757); Isuzu D-Max (1,666); Volkswagen Polo Vivo (1,608); Toyota Starlet (1,477); Volkswagen Polo (1,221); Ford Ranger (1,165); Suzuki S-Presso (926); Toyota Agya (911); Renault Kwid (876); Suzuki Swift (859); Volkswagen T-Cross (838); Kia Picanto (729); Renault Triber (719).


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