Life in SA as we used to know it has changed dramatically under lockdown. So too have car buying patterns. For instance, searches for second-hand cars under R50,000 increased by almost 300% versus normal pre-lockdown levels during lockdown level 5.
And the specific vehicle bought reveals some very interesting trends. The statistics are based on an analysis of vehicles sold on AutoTrader from May 1 to June 7 2020.
The number one choice of car in the sub-R50 000 category is the iconic Volkswagen Citi Golf. A uniquely SA success story, the Citi made its first appearance on SA roads in 1984, six years after Golf 1 was introduced in this country.
Volkswagen South Africa launched the Citi as its affordable car to compete in the entry-level segment following the introduction of a bigger and more expensive Golf 2 — the “Jumbo” Golf, as it became affectionately known.
“South Africans fell in love with the affordable and cheerful Citi; over the next 25 years, Volkswagen sold over 370,000 of these cars. It is interesting to see that the love affair of South Africans with the Citi endures to this day,” comments George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.
“The popularity of the Citi Golf is also testament to the power of the Volkswagen brand. It’s a brand that motorists buy with confidence, because they trust it,” he notes.
Back in November 2009, the price of the last Citi model — the limited-edition Citi Mk1 — was R113,500. Lockdown shoppers have been paying a fraction of that: R37,691 on average (for vehicles with an average registration year of 2004 and an average mileage of 192,180km).
While the consumer emphasis has very much been on the sub-R50,000 sector, Mienie reveals that searches in this price category are petering off. “We are seeing a return to pre-lockdown activity, where searches for cars R100k and less, or R200k and less, are becoming more popular again. Sub-R50,000 searches decreased by 40% while R100k searches increased by 22% and R200K searches increased by a whopping 51%,” he reports.
According to Mienie, the return to R100k and R200k searches is likely due to industries opening up, people going back to work under lockdown level 3 but also, more than likely, an acceleration in the swing from new cars to used cars by consumers still under financial pressure.
The 10 most sold cars under R50,000 are: *
1: Volkswagen Citi
2: BMW 3 Series
3: Opel Corsa
4: Opel Corsa Lite
5: Volkswagen Polo
6: Ford Fiesta
7: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
8: Atos Prime
9: Chery QQ3
10: Renault Scenic
*Source: AutoTrader, 1 May to 7 June 2020
As the country’s largest motoring marketplace, car searches and sales via AutoTrader have long been regarded as an accurate barometer of consumer buying patterns.