Car sales are a key indicator of the health of the SA economy providing a snapshot of consumer spending and confidence. 2023 was a year fraught with economic uncertainty, power outages and logistical issues like port delays that particularly impacted the new car market.
While the used car market continued to show signs of positive results, the scenario was not quite as rosy for the new car market.
The number of passenger used cars sold rose by +4.6% year-on-year in 2023, according to AutoTrader used car sales data. Over the year, 367,075 used cars were sold bringing the total value of used car sales to R146.5bn, a +7.7% year-on-year rise in value from the platform’s data. The average used car selling price was R399,163, with an average mileage 77,783 km for an average age of a 6 year-old model.
In contrast, the new car market with total passenger sales of 347,695 vehicles managed year-on-year decline of -4.4%, reports naamsa | The Automotive Business Council. Though passenger car sales shrunk, the uptick in sales of commercial vehicles helped push total new vehicle sales into positive territory in 2023 with ‘growth’ of +0.5%.
Of concern is the continued monthly decline in new vehicle sales. Total passenger sales were 27 606 new vehicles in December 2023, but the month proved to be the fifth consecutive month of decline with sales declining by -3.9% year-on-year, according to naamsa.
By comparison used car passenger sales rose +7.5% year-on-year for the month of December with sales of 26,846 units according to AutoTrader platform data.
Toyota reigned supreme in 2023 selling the most cars in both the new and used car markets. In the used car space, Volkswagen and Ford maintained their second and third spots. “In the used car market, Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford continued to occupy the three podium spots in sales. German carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz however are beginning to feel the pressure from Suzuki and Kia, both of whom moved up two positions in the sales ranking. Asian brands like Hyundai, Suzuki and Kia continue to gain in popularity with locals on account of their value-for-money offerings,” AutoTrader CEO George Mienie says.
Top-selling models in the new passenger car market (excludes bakkies) were the Volkswagen Polo Vivo with sales of 23,904 units, Toyota Corolla Cross (22,592 units) and Suzuki Swift (15,974)2. But if, (like the used car platform) bakkies are factored in, the new model top-sellers would look like this: Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and VW Polo Vivo. The Toyota Hilux bakkie was the top-selling new vehicle in 2023.
The bakkie battle continued to play out in the used car model sales stakes where the Ranger triumphed over the Hilux. Hatchback VW Polo bagged third spot. However, if bakkies are disregarded for passenger sales (as is the case in the new passenger car market), then in the used car market the VW Polo, VW Polo Vivo and Toyota Fortuner emerge as the top-selling used passenger cars in 2023.