The cars you can afford on the average salary in South Africa right now

 ·5 May 2024

New cars in South Africa are now pricier, limiting options for average earners, and there are now only 12 new cars available in their price range.

According to the latest quarterly employment survey (QES) published by Stats SA, the average salary in South Africa increased by 1.6% from R26,471 in August 2023 to R26,894 per month in November.

This was largely due to increases in industries such as trade, business services, manufacturing, construction, transport, mining, and electricity industries.

This increase worked out to 2.3% year-on-year from the R26,298 in November 2022, which is significantly below inflation (5.5%) and the above-inflation increases in car prices (around 6.3%).

Although the majority of non-agricultural workers in South Africa earn this monthly salary, they can only afford 12 new vehicles with it, as the cost of new vehicles has risen substantially over the years.

According to TransUnion’s latest Vehicle Pricing Index (VPI), the price of new vehicles increased by 6.3% on average in Q4 2023 alone.

However, the price of a car doesn’t reflect the true cost of ownership, as motorists must factor in monthly fuel costs, insurance, and running costs (maintenance).

According to WesBank’s estimates, the actual cost of ownership has increased by a staggering 50.6% since 2021 as a result of climbing petrol prices and sticky inflation.

This is especially true considering that new car prices are increasing in South Africa and there’s very little choice for those earning the average salary.

TransUnion noted the income distribution of new financial agreements had minor changes with lower-income consumers unable to enter the market.

“Economic constraints led many consumers to increasingly opt for more cost-effective mobility options, including older, less expensive used vehicles and alternative financing models,” the report added.

The cars

According to financing experts, individuals should spend no more than 25% of their monthly income on vehicle-related costs – meaning those earning R26,894 per month should spend no more than R6,725 on vehicle expenses.

This assumes the cars are financed over five years (60 months) at an annual interest rate of 13% (prime +1.25%), with a 0% deposit or balloon payment.

However, the experts noted that vehicle-related costs include:

  • vehicle instalments
  • Insurance premiums
  • Fuel costs

Therefore, we capped the monthly repayment on the price of the vehicle alone at R5,500, meaning the average income earner can afford a car priced up to R240,000.

There are currently only 12 cars priced under R240,000 in South Africa, and these are listed below with pricing and estimated monthly repayment amount.

Suzuki S-Presso

  • Starting price: R178,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,167

Suzuki Celerio

  • Starting price: R188,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,395

Toyota Vitz

  • Starting price: R189,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,417

Renault Kwid

  • Starting price: R196,999
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,579

Proton Saga

  • Starting price: R209,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,872

Suzuki DZire

  • Starting price: R211,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,918

Suzuki Swift

  • Starting price: R213,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R4,963

Renault Triber

  • Starting price: R228,999
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R5,306

Suzuki Ignis

  • Starting price: R230,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R5,350

Nissan Magnite

  • Starting price: R235,300
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R5,450

Hyundai Grand i10

  • Starting price: R239,500
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R5,545

Citroen C3

  • Starting price: R239,900
  • Estimated monthly repayment: R5,555

Read: 3 new Chinese SUVs coming to South Africa – what to expect

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