Gone are the days when ‘pre-loved’ vehicle lots might have had a few fixer-uppers displayed in the back, noted Donovan Enslin (photo), used vehicle manager for the Kelston Motor Group.
“I don’t think there is a manufacturer delivering a poor vehicle at the moment. You can now get great vehicle for R150 000. Even at the lower end, you can be assured of a good vehicle, and the market is very diverse. You are never limited in choice,” he says.
The country’s pre-owned sector has taken off amid higher fuel prices and a challenging economic environment.
Data from used-car platform, AutoTrader, shows that almost 100 000 more vehicles were listed for sale between January and June 2023 compared with the same period in 2020.
In the same timeframe, 18 new vehicle brands entered the market, among them Chinese marques like Chery.
“On average, Kelston has more than 300 used vehicles available at any time in the Eastern Cape, meaning that customers can select their preferred vehicle brand while having an excellent chance of getting it in their favourite colour,” says Donovan.
Donovan, who is based in Gqeberha, from where he oversees the pre-owned aspect of five of the Group’s branches, says in recent months there had been a rise in demand for compact SUVs and crossovers that were better equipped to negotiate South Africa’s notorious potholes.
“The moment you add ride-height to a vehicle you get a more comfortable drive. It is preferable to having a hatchback, which can struggle on our roads. For this reason, the Chery Tiggo had become extremely popular.
“However, pre-owned Toyota Fortuners and Ford Rangers remained highly sought after – an opinion that corresponds with AutoTrader figures for 2023, which indicate that the Japanese manufacturer accounts for 15.3 per cent of the listings, followed by VW (12.98%) and Ford (10.60%),” he says.
“I deal in these vehicles and if it is hard for me to choose from what is available, so it will be for a buyer. That is how much we are spoilt for choice. I think people will be selling themselves short to not explore the used market as it ticks all the boxes.”
Pre-owned service plans were also now on a par with those offered with new vehicles, Donovan adds.
“Kelston works very hard to be a one-stop shop. We always sell our vehicles under warranty. That side of the business is very important to us. “We understand that our customers want to go to a place they can trust.”
“Owing to the Internet, customers have become a lot savvier when it comes to their cars. Because they are more in tune with their vehicles, they generally know when something is amiss and therefore require dealerships to be on the same page,” he concludes.