Diesel vs petrol vs electric car sales in South Africa

While petrol vehicles continue to dominate South Africa’s passenger car and light commercial vehicle landscape, new data suggests a slow migration towards diesel engines.

The Automotive Export Manual 2017, published by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), showed that in 2016, for the third successive year, new vehicle sales in South Africa recorded a year-on-year decline.

Aggregate sales during 2016 fell by 11.4% in volume terms to 547,406 units compared to sales of 617,648 units in 2015.

Naamsa noted that the popularity of diesel-engine models has been steadily increasing over recent years, and in 2016, the market share for new diesel passenger car and light commercial vehicle sales accounted for 33,5% of total light vehicle sales, up from 32,2% in 2015.

Read: Diesel vs petrol car – how to choose which is best

“This percentage, however, remains low in contrast with Western Europe where diesel engines are a popular choice amongst passenger car customers, with a share of 49,5% opting for this type of powertrain in 2016,” the report said.

Domestic hybrid petrol and diesel vehicle sales meanwhile, comprised 574 units in 2016, while electric car sales, including the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, declined from 79 units in 2015 to 41 units in 2016.

The following table reveals the split between sales of new petrol and diesel cars and light commercial vehicles in South Africa from 2012 through to 2016:

According to the Automobile Association (AA), one of the main motivations for buying a diesel vehicle is its fuel efficiency. On average, diesel engines consume between 25% and 30% less fuel than their petrol counterparts.

The AA said that diesel engines produce more low-end torque and are therefore more powerful, while modern diesel vehicles run much more cleanly than they did before.

And while these vehicles are likely to be more expensive, you can recoup most of this extra cost at the fuel pump.

Fuel costs for April and May 017

Inland prices

Fuel April official May official
93 Petrol R13.08 R13.57
95 Petrol R13.30 R13.79
0.05% Diesel (wholesale) R11.51 R11.81

Coastal prices

Fuel April official May official
93 Petrol R12.69 R13.18
95 Petrol R12.81 R13.30
0.05% Diesel (wholesale) R11.12 R11.42

Read: 9 factors that affect the trade-in value of your car

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