SA's car shoppers turn into insomniacs during lockdown

29 April 2020 - 14:30 By Motoring Reporter
According to lockdown data from AutoTrader, online car searches from 11pm to 3am have increased by 20%, increasing further by a whopping 7% between 1am and 2am.
According to lockdown data from AutoTrader, online car searches from 11pm to 3am have increased by 20%, increasing further by a whopping 7% between 1am and 2am.
Image: subbotina / 123rf

The lockdown has changed life in South Africa, including the habits of car shoppers who have turned into night owls.

Online car searches from 11pm to 3am have increased by 20%, increasing further by a whopping 78% between 1am and 2am. In short, during lockdown, there have been more searches at midnight than at 9am.

“We are also experiencing an increase in demand for vehicles under R200,000,” points out AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie. “This shows a restless consumer potentially looking to downgrade his or her car and free up cash.”   

The most searched-for models in the middle of the night are also interesting – the Volkswagen Golf dominates (yet it’s normally only eighth on the most searched-for used car list). It is the top pick of shoppers at 11pm, midnight and 3am followed by the Toyota Hilux and BMW 3 Series.

The search patterns have also changed slightly at 1am and 2am. While the Golf continues to rule the roost during both time slots, the 3 Series and Volkswagen Polo complete the top three at 1am while the Polo and the Toyota Hilux are on the podium at 2am.

“The change in vehicles being searched for could be an indicator of consumers not searching for aspirational brands but rather going directly for what they can afford during these times. Dealerships are also getting leads for these cars in the early hours of the morning, the most popular being the Golf,” points out Mienie.

These figures have been extracted from AutoTrader consumer search data. As the largest automotive marketplace in the country, AutoTrader data paints a clear picture of what’s happening in the South African automotive landscape.

Car searches on AutoTrader in March slowed slightly towards the end of the month, due to the national lockdown, which came into effect on midnight March 26. Search demand for vehicles has hit its highest level since mid-February. Increase in search demand began to occur from April 26 after President Ramaposa’s national address recording a 31% increase when compared to the first weekend of lockdown. 

Currently, the car dealership industry is set to remain closed during the new phase of lockdown. AutoTrader’s submission to amend the government schedule was sent for review on Monday April 27. The final schedules and regulations will be gazetted on Wednesday, April 29. 

“It’s important that this pent-up sales pipeline is released and car dealerships are allowed to trade in Level 4. This will not only assist struggling consumers to pay bills (and to sleep better at night!), but will also help to accelerate an already struggling economy,” concludes Mienie.  


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