The most popular car brands in South Africa – including 12 of the best-selling models right now

 ·3 Jun 2023

While domestic new passenger vehicle sales remained stagnant at 0.1% in May 2023, there are still some clear brand and model favourites among those who purchased a new car last month.

Domestic new vehicle sales were recorded at 43,060 units – a significant increase of 3,959 vehicles from the 39,101 new cars sold in May 2022.

As of May 2023, Toyota continues as the most popular brand in South Africa, selling 11,395 vehicles. This is partly due to the continued popularity of its flagship bakkie – the Toyota Hilux – which sold 2,798 units.

Volkswagen (VW) also remains the second most popular brand, with 5,259 units sold, while Suzuki is third, with a total of 3,709 units sold.

Toyota comprised 26.4% of all vehicles sold last month. This is more than the combined sales of VW (12.1%) and Suzuki (8.6%), which comprised 20.7% of all vehicles sold.

Of the total reported industry sales of 43,060 vehicles, 90.2% were represented by dealer sales, 4.9% to the vehicle rental industry, 2.2% to the government, and 2.7% to corporate industry fleets.

The top 10 brands that sold the most cars locally in May 2023 were:

  1. Toyota – 11,395 units
  2. Volkswagen Group – 5,259 units
  3. Suzuki – 3,709 units
  4. Hyundai – 2,745 units
  5. Ford – 2,491 units
  6. Nissan – 2,314 units
  7. Haval – 1,877 units
  8. Isuzu – 1,871 units
  9. Renault – 1,848 units
  10. Kia – 1,668 units

2023 expectations

While some segments show record year-on-year growth, the most popular segment for South Africans – new passenger vehicles – remained stagnant.

Continued monetary policy tightening, domestic and global slowing growth, and energy shortages will continue to impact the industry’s overall performance moving forward, said Naamsa.

“These ongoing negative domestic and global economic activities directly affect the production mechanisms of the industry and, therefore, the cost of doing business in South Africa,” it said.

Naamsa noted that load shedding is still the biggest threat to the industry and said, “A load shedding bound economy will cause irreparable harm to the automotive industry, which has become the successful cornerstone of industrialisation and development in South Africa.”

It also shared that the Naamsa CEOs Confidence Index reflected a gloomy outlook for nearly all of the automotive industry’s key performance indicators over the next three months.

“While the levels of demand remain reassuring for the new vehicle market, the economic effects will continue to take their toll on consumer budgets and ultimately have a bigger impact on the vehicle market moving forward,” added WesBank.

Best-selling models 

The Toyota Hilux climbed to the top spot – after losing its long-standing title to the new Ford Ranger in April – selling 2,798 units in May.

Additionally, Toyota boasted five models in the top 12 best-selling cars – which included the Hilux (1st), Toyota Corolla Cross (4th), Toyota Hi-Ace (6th), Toyota Starlet (7th), and the Toyota Fortuner (11th).

Following its one-month reign at the top, the new Ford Ranger ranked in 2nd in May, selling 2,104 units.

The second and third most popular brands, VW and Suzuki, also featured models in the top ten – the VW Polo Vivo (3rd) and VW Polo (10th) and the Suzuki Swift (8th).

The top 12 best-selling models, including the abovementioned models, and how many units were sold in May 2023 are listed below.

1. Toyota Hilux – 2,798 units sold

  • Starting price: R346,200

2. Ford Ranger – 2,104 units sold

  • Starting price: R464,200

3. VW Polo Vivo – 1,876 units sold

  • Starting price: R248,500

4. Toyota Corolla Cross – 1,644 units sold

  • Starting price: R392,900

5. Isuzu D-Max – 1,555 units sold

  • Starting price: R421,200

6. Toyota Hi-Ace – 1,487 units sold

  • Starting price: R528,100

7. Toyota Starlet– 1,218 units sold

  • Starting price: R241,200

8. Suzuki Swift – 1,178 units sold

  • Starting price: R199,900

9. Nissan NP200 – 1,157 units sold

  • Starting price: R225,700

10. VW Polo – 1,024 units sold

  • Starting price: R337,700

11. Toyota Fortuner – 1,018 units sold

  • Starting price: R653,500

12. Hyundai Grand i10 – 976 units sold

  • Starting price: R224,900

Read: South Africans are losing almost R500 per tank to fuel taxes – here’s what you’re paying for

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