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South Africa is a production hub, and this has an impact on the best-selling cars there, on either side of the scale…
The South African market is in great shape in 2011: in November it is up 11 percent at 49,499 registrations and up 16 percent year-to-date at 526,223 units. Toyota and Volkswagen are masters in South Africa with the first one grabbing a 23.1 percent market share in November and the second one at 15.2 percent. Both brands produce in the country and the majority of their models sold in South Africa are produced there. They even export roughly half the amount they sell.
For Mercedes and BMW it’s a different story. The two German brands are respectively 6th and 7th in the manufacturers ranking, a very high position in itself, but interestingly they both export exactly twice as much as what they sell in the country.
As a whole, South Africa currently exports vehicles to over 70 countries, mainly Japan (around 29% of the value of total exports), Australia (20%), the UK (12%) and the US (11%).
Now to the best-selling models which is, as you know, my specialty.
Thanks to the new generation recently arrived in dealerships, the Toyota Hilux has reclaimed the title of South Africa’s best-selling vehicle it held since 2008. With 4,335 sales and an outstanding 8.8 percent share of the market in November, it even lodges the best score from any model in the last 7 years, and possibly ever but my data is not exhaustive enough to be able to affirm this with 100 percent certainty. Still, an amazing performance that augurs well for the new generation Hilux’s career in South Africa.
Now having the Toyota Hilux as the best-selling vehicle is far from extraordinary I hear you say, and you would be right given South Africa is estimated to be the 33rd country to be in that position. But with such a strong penetration it is up there with Thailand (where it is produced) as one of its strongest markets in the world.
Holding the pole position for most of 2011 and up until last month but now down to 2nd place, the VW Polo Vivo is an interesting exercise in low-cost by Volkswagen, a similar one to what Nissan is doing with the Tsuru in Mexico. Up until 2010, VW South Africa kept the first generation Golf, yes the one dating back from 1974, in the catalog with continued success. It was renamed the CitiGolf and ranked within the Top 10 during all these years with only minor changes due to its low price.
As the new generation VW Polo arrived in 2010 , VW stopped the CitiGolf production and kept the old gen Polo, a raging success in the country already (#1 in 2006 and 2007), in the catalog, renaming it Polo Vivo.
And it worked, even better than the CitiGolf in its time. The Polo Vivo was the best-selling model in South Africa for most of 2011′s first half…
…with the new generation Polo taking the 3rd spot!
Toyota is also strong in passenger cars, placing the Corolla/Auris #4.
Ford is also trying a low-cost solution in South Africa (as well as India) with relative success, placing the Figo, basically a stripped down previous generation Fiesta, #6 year-to-date.
Illustrating the low-cost/premium paradox in South Africa, the Mercedes C Class holds an impressive 7th place year-to-date in South Africa, nearly as high as in Germany, perhaps because South Africans have access to premium models at … relatively low-cost, having them produced there.
The BMW 3 Series ranks #10 so far this year.
South Africa November 2011 Top 30
|2||VW Polo Vivo||2,270||4.6%|
|5||Opel Corsa Utility||1,528||3.1%|
|12||BMW 3 Series||825||1.7%|
|13||Mercedes C Class||825||1.7%|
|28||BMW 1 Series||349||0.7%|
South Africa Year-To-Date 2011 Top 30
|2||VW Polo Vivo||32,177||6.1%|
|5||Opel Corsa Utility||16,126||3.1%|
|7||Mercedes C Class||13,330||2.5%|
|10||BMW 3 Series||11,061||2.1%|
Now for the little nugget: South Africa is proving to be one of the most welcoming countries (with Japan, Finland and France) for the Nissan Juke: already #19 for its second month of sales in the country.
And there you go, just like that you have become an expert in South African car sales…
You’re most welcome.
Sales figures are sourced from NAAMSA.
Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.