Interesting shifts in used car demands

It has been a bumpy ride for a couple of years for the South African motor industry, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and stock shortages exacerbating an already bleak situation underpinned by a poorly performing local economy.

Cars co za Top 10 most searched for used cars 2021 Approved Option page 0001

But the automotive sector is nothing if not resilient, according to Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager, Hannes Oosthuizen, on its latest data in this regard.

The used car “sweet-spot” in 2021 remained a vehicle priced between R200 000 and R300 000, with a mileage of just over 100 000 km and first registered around three years ago.

At a brand level, most South Africans are loyal to established names, but there are signs that the German premium brands are receding, while the Chinese brand, Haval, is on the rise.

At a model level, South Africans’ demand for old favourites remains strong, while some models (such as Nissan’s long-serving NP200) are growing in popularity. The highest new entry on the model ranking list is Haval’s smash-hit, small crossover, the Jolion.

“Looking at our headline numbers, most South African car buyers are still searching for cars priced in the R200 000 to R300 000 bracket,” says Hannes.

“The average price (for submitted enquiries) worked out to R236 900, which is slightly higher than the average in 2020. The R200 000 to R300 000 segment alone accounts for 20.6% of enquiries (also called “leads”) submitted on Cars.co.za during 2021, with the segment for cars priced between R150 000 and R200 000 slotting into second place, with a share of 16.34%.

“In third place is the R300 000 to R399 000 segment, with an 11.82% share of enquiries. Deeper analysis shows that higher-priced segments have grown fairly significantly compared with 2020.”

Mileage appears to be less of a concern compared with previous years. The segment for vehicles with a mileage of between 100 000 and 194 999 km did, however, garner the most enquiries (20.33%) on Cars.co.za during 2021, and the average mileage was 109 600 km.

Interestingly, there was significant growth in terms of enquiries for vehicles with higher mileage (which at least will be partly stock availability-related). For example, enquiries for vehicles with a mileage of between 150 000 km and 199 999 km grew from 11.13% to 12.97%, while requests for vehicles with mileages above 200 000 km rose from 7.28% to 9.1%.

In terms of vehicle age, the overwhelming bulk of enquiries was for vehicles first registered between 2014 and 2018, with vehicles from 2017 slightly edging out the other model years with a share of 8.7%.

“In other words, the used car sweet-spot remains about the same as before – a vehicle that is about three years old, with a mileage of just over 100 000 km and priced at around R240 000,” he adds.

South Africa’s favourite Used Car Brands:

Based on overall enquiries, there has been little change in the Top 10 ranking of brands, says Hannes, but shifts are happening.

“It appears premium brands are slipping slightly, and there is significant movement from 12th place downwards. Remember, it takes time for newer brands to gain traction in the used-car space and for stock of older, discontinued brands/models to work their way out of the system.

“That said, Suzuki’s move from 17th to 15th place and Haval’s leap from 30th to 22nd position are the stand-out changes. What’s more, even though Chevrolet left the local market in 2017, it is still ranked 10th in terms of enquiries on Cars.co.za, mostly owing to the sustained popularity of its Utility pick-up in the used market. The Chevy Ute was the 19th most-requested used vehicle on Cars.co.za last year.

“Interestingly, the budget-friendly Datsun brand slipped from 24th to 27th place, only one position ahead of Porsche,” he adds.

Top 10 Used Car Brands in SA 2021 (based on share of total enquiries on Cars.co.za):

1. Volkswagen 17.68%

2. Toyota 16.13%

3. Ford 9.28%

4. BMW 8.08%

5. Mercedes-Benz 7.71%

6. Hyundai 5.79%

7. Nissan 4.81%

8. Audi 4.68%

9. Kia 3.06%

10. Chevrolet 2.44%

“Firstly, to provide some context, it is worth noting that there were more than 800 individual model types listed for sale on Cars.co.za last year, but the top 100 account for about 80% of enquiries submitted,” says Hannes.

The biggest mover in the Top 20 was the enduring Nissan NP200, which vaulted five places to 10th, while the biggest loser was the Ford Fiesta, which fell out of the top ten to finish 12th. The highest new entry on the list was the Haval Jolion, which, even though it was only launched in 2021, finished the year in a strong 133th place.

Top 10 Used Car Models in SA 2021 (based on share of total enquiries on Cars.co.za):

1. Volkswagen Polo 6.54%

2. Toyota Hilux 5.28%

3. Ford Ranger 3.68%

4. BMW 3 Series 3.39%

5. Mercedes-Benz C-Class 3.32%

6. Volkswagen Polo Vivo 3.24%

7. Volkswagen Golf 2.78%

8. Toyota Fortuner 2.12%

9. Toyota Corolla 1.63%

10. Nissan NP200 1.52%

Note that the Isuzu KB and the D-Max are recorded as separate models, but as they are effectively the same product, one could argue that their enquiries should be combined. If that is done, the Isuzu actually leaps into 9th place overall.

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