How Covid-19 changed car-buying patterns in South Africa

Lockdown has affected every single South African – on so many levels, including a change in car-buying patterns.

This perhaps surprising finding has emerged from an analysis of search and sales data on digital automotive marketplace, AutoTrader before and during the various levels of lockdown.

AutoTrader chief executive officer, George Mienie, said it is interesting to see how preferences have changed during lockdown.

“The 2020 AutoTrader Car Industry Report reveals which cars were the most searched for pre- and during-lockdown. When one compares this to search data during Lockdown Level 2 (18 August to date), there are some distinct differences,” he said.

One of the most interesting trends was the substantial growth in searches for the Volkswagen Golf – whereas it was the fourth most searched for vehicle before lockdown, it shot up into first position during Lockdown Level 5 and Level 4.

“This could have something to do with the affordability of the Golf. According to the 2020 AutoTrader Car Industry Report, the average selling price of the Golf over the past year was R288,049 while the average selling price of the Hilux was R327,807.

“The dominance of the Golf during lockdown could indicate that motorists were under financial pressure and wanted to minimise their spending on a car,” Mienie said.

There was however an exception to this rule in the form of the Porsche 911 which was the tenth most searched for car during lockdown.

“The 911 is periodically in the top 10 list of most searched for cars – yet it did appear during lockdown. Maybe motorists were dreaming of better times to come, or maybe they were just wanting to have some fun during what was a very difficult time for us all,” the car sales expert said.

The data also reveals lower search statistics for the Ford Ranger compared to its competitors. “The Ford Ranger was the top-selling used car, contributing 4.7% of all cars sold, at an average selling price of R305,944, an average mileage of 85,948km and an average year model of 2016. Yet it was the fifth most searched for vehicle during all three periods,” Mienie said.

“Lockdown has had an enormous impact on the lives of motorists (and indeed all South Africans). It has greatly impacted the used car market too. Hopefully, those challenging times are now behind us,” Mienie said.


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How Covid-19 changed car-buying patterns in South Africa