Hilux, Suzuki, Vivo big winners in 2019; premium brand sales on the decline

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New-vehicle sales in South Africa in 2019 showed a strong buying-down trend, with under-pressure consumers either opting for trusted and/or value-for-money brands, rather than more premium cars.

The South African total new-vehicle sales market declined by 2.8% in 2019, to 536 626 units, down from the 552 227 units sold in 2018, according to data released this week.

South Africa’s favourite vehicle is yet again the Toyota Hilux bakkie, selling a whopping 40 934 units last year – a marginal increase on the 40 018 units sold in 2018.

Other winners include Indian value brand Mahindra, pushing up its sales to a new record of 7 259 units for the year, up from the previous record of 5 500 units, set in 2018.

Suzuki, a specialist in largely small, more affordable cars, also proved the buying-down trend, growing by 29% in 2019, to 15 481 units, adding to the 37% growth achieved in 2018.

Volkswagen’s locally produced Polo Vivo, which targets the budget market, saw its sales increase by 15.5%, to 29 618 units.

In stark contrast to these numbers, the premium car segment continued to experience significant pressure.

Some evidence of this can be found in Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales, which dropped another estimated 9%, to 14 545 units, adding to the 22% decline seen in 2018.

BMW saw a 17% drop in local sales in 2019, to just more than 15 000 units.

Volvo Cars, which continues to shed its conservative image, couldn’t repeat last year’s 24% growth performance, with sales declining by 6% in 2019, to 2 340 units.

Luxury and performance cars also had a mostly tough year.

Ferrari sales declined by 13%, from 79 units to 69 units.

Luxury brand Bentley saw interest slip as sales declined from 88 units to 69 units.

Maserati also saw a decline in sales, from 86 units in 2018, to 82 units in 2019.

Porsche sales were, however, remarkably strong, increasing by 12%, to 1 496 units.

Lamborghini, new to the Toby Venter stable, sold 59 vehicles.