New-car sales recover in February but bakkies bomb

05 March 2020 - 08:02 By Denis Droppa
The new Kia Seltos (pictured) has made an immediate impact in the compact SUV market, taking a bite out of the market share of VW’s T-Cross. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new Kia Seltos (pictured) has made an immediate impact in the compact SUV market, taking a bite out of the market share of VW’s T-Cross. Picture: SUPPLIED

Local new-vehicle sales recovered somewhat last month after January’s 8.1% decline, but the claimed improvement involved some guesswork after Mercedes-Benz joined BMW in only reporting its sales on a quarterly instead of monthly basis going forward.

This is in line with both companies’ global directives.

Providing estimates for both BMW’s and Mercedes’sales, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) reported that 43,485 new vehicles were sold in February 2020 which was just 0.7% down on February 2019, providing a confidence boost in the market after January’s plummet.

Passenger car sales were up an encouraging 7.6% to 29,665 units last month compared to February 2019, but new bakkie sales tumbled 17.7% to 11,625 units in a sector that closely reflects business confidence levels.

Sales in the medium and heavy truck segments performed relatively well at respectively 686 units (up 3.8%) and 1,509 units (up 3.7%) compared to the February last year.

February is traditionally the first realistic picture of the year’s outlook for sales, as January is skewed by the holiday season, says Wesbank’s Lebogang Gaoaketse, Head of Marketing and Communication.

“The economic outlook for the country isn’t going to give the market an easy ride. While consumers were shown some relief in the Budget in income tax terms, increases in toll fees and fuel levies will continue driving the total cost of ownership up, forcing consumers to be increasingly vigilant about their discretionary spend,” says Gaoaketse.

“Simply put: if there is an opportunity for consumers to defer vehicle purchases, we expect them to do so.”

Despite the drop in light commercial vehicle sales, SA’s best selling vehicle was a bakkie with the Toyota Hilux occupying its regular spot at the top of the February 2020 list. The VW Polo Vivo and its modern Polo counterpart were respectively the best selling passenger cars ahead of the Ford Figo and Renault Kwid.

After lighting up the sales charts since its launch late last year, sales of the VW T-Cross took a dip in the competitive compact SUV market, at least in part due to the recent introduction of rivals like the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Venue which both feature in the top 30 best sellers list.

SA’s top selling new vehicles — February 2020

1. Toyota Hilux — 2,895

2. VW Polo Vivo — 2,417

3. VW Polo — 2,120

4. Ford Ranger — 1,878

5. Isuzu D-Max — 1,333

6. Nissan NP200 — 1,167

7. Toyota Hi-Ace — 1,083

8. Ford Figo — 1,068

9. Toyota Fortuner — 975

10. Renault Kwid — 892

11. Toyota Corolla Quest — 884

12. Suzuki Swift — 761

13. Toyota Etios — 644

14. Nissan NP300 — 574

15. Hyundai i20 — 676

16. Hyundai Grand i10 — 674

17. Toyota Yaris — 561

18. VW Polo sedan — 540

19. VW Tiguan — 529

20. Toyota Rav4 — 497

21. VW T-Cross — 462

22. Renault Triber — 432

23. Nissan Almera — 426

24. Hyundai Venue — 394

25. Kia Seltos — 377

26. Kia Picanto — 373

27. Mazda CX-5 — 335

28. Mahindra Scorpio Pik-Up — 327

29. Renault Duster — 315

30. Hyundai H100 Bakkie — 300

* List excludes BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Haval (Haval reports only its aggregate sales and not by model derivative).