SA’s top 10 automakers: winners & losers in 2023 so far

SA’s top 10 automakers: winners & losers in 2023 so far

With 3 quarters of 2023 gone, we’ve crunched the numbers to see which of South Africa’s top 10 automakers grew and which ones shrunk so far this year. Here are the winners and losers…

Year to date at the end of September 2023, South Africa’s new-vehicle industry had grown 2.5% to 401 315 units, a relatively encouraging performance considering the raft of headwinds still facing the local market. So, which of the country’s mainstream automakers grew and which ones endured a dip in sales?

Well, with 3 quarters of the year already behind us, we’ve consolidated the sales figures for South Africa’s 10 best-selling automakers of 2023 thus far, allowing us to compare the latest numbers with those from the corresponding 9-month period in 2022. In short, we’ve effectively identified the winners and losers out of the top 10 companies.

For the record, 5 firms inside the top 10 managed to grow their respective tallies year on year, while 5 saw a decline. Right, here’s your full overview of the performances of the main players in South Africa’s new-vehicle market…

Toyota still top as Suzuki narrows gap to VW

The Hilux accounted for more than a quarter of Toyota sales, year to date.

If you hold even a passing interest in SA’s new-vehicle industry, you won’t be at all surprised to see Toyota – which includes sales from the Lexus and Hino brands – at the very top of the charts. In fact, with a whopping 107 081 registrations over the opening 9 months of the year, the Japanese firm’s local division boasted more than double the number of sales of the 2nd-placed automaker (and an enviable market share of 26.7%).

For the record, Toyota registrations increased 13.5% year on year, though we should keep in mind the company’s 2022 performance was hit hard by the KwaZulu-Natal floods, which scuppered production at Prospecton for months on end. Regardless, Toyota is well on track to securing new-vehicle sales leadership in Mzansi for the 44th consecutive year, with the Hilux leading the charge on 28 341 units (or a little over a quarter of Toyota’s year-to-date total).

The Volkswagen Group (including Audi) placed 2nd, though the German automaker’s tally of 50 074 units represented a 5.8% year-on-year fall. Meanwhile, Suzuki sales (37 235 units) increased 4.2% compared with the same period in 2022, which saw the Hamamatsu-based brand’s local division close the gap somewhat to the VW Group. Year to date, 12 839 units separate the firms (a figure that’s far smaller if we look at sales through the dealer channel only).

Ford climbs as race for 4th place heats up

More than 80% of Ford sales year to date were Ranger units.

Though Hyundai sales were down 12.2% year on year to 24 213 units, the South Korean firm managed to hold on to 4th position. From January to September last year, Hyundai crossed the 3 000-unit barrier as many as 5 fives, a feat it could achieve only once in the corresponding period this year.

Meanwhile, with a year-to-date total of 22 993 registrations, Ford was just 1 220 units off the pace in 5th. With production of the latest-generation Ranger now fully online, the Blue Oval brand increased its tally 17.4% year on year (the strongest growth in the top 10), which saw it climb 2 rankings from the relatively lowly 7th spot it held in 2022. Fascinatingly, the locally built Ranger accounted for a whopping 80.9% of Ford’s total.

Nissan, meanwhile, dropped out of the top 5 to finish the reporting period in 6th, despite its sales holding relatively steady, year on year. Over the opening 9 months of 2023, the Japanese manufacturer’s local division registered 22 301 vehicles, representing a marginal year-on-year increase of 0.6%. It’s worth noting, of course, the NP200 – a model that accounted for nearly half of Nissan’s volume in 2023 thus far – will be put out to pasture in the 1st quarter of 2024.

Isuzu rises, Haval holds, Renault and Kia fall

Just under half of Haval’s YTD sales (including the GWM brand) came courtesy of the Jolion.

Though Isuzu relies on the Struandale-built D-Max bakkie even more heavily than Ford does on the Ranger (its only other model being the low-volume MU-X), the Japanese brand enjoyed an impressive climb from 10th to 7th place in the opening 9 months of the year. Isuzu’s sales tally increased 15.7% year on year to finish the reporting period on 17 882 units.

In contrast, Renault slipped from 6th to 8th, with its sales performance reflecting a 23.8% year-on-year decline to 16 431 units. That means the French firm’s local division experienced the largest percentage drop in the top 10, with former volume drivers such as the Clio and Captur struggling to match sales of years gone by (the Indian-built Kiger, though, was its top seller with 6 036 units).

Interestingly, though Haval sales slipped 3.8% year on year to 15 479 units, the Chinese automaker – bolstered by 7 005 registrations of the Jolion – retained the 9th place it secured last year. That said, it’s just 952 units behind Renault, year to date. Finally, Kia slid 2 places to 10th, with its total of 14 708 units representing a drop of 15.7% compared with the corresponding period in 2022.

Chery challenging just outside the top 10

Chery finds itself in 11th place, with the the Tiggo 4 pro accounting for 60% of the brand’s sales.

So, what about the automakers that didn’t manage to crack the top 10 over the opening 3 quarters of 2023? Well, Chinese firm Chery found itself in 11th with 12 115 registrations, which put it 2 593 units behind Kia (for the month of July 2023, Chery managed to crack the top 10 – at the expense of Kia – for the 1st time since it starting reporting sales figures to Naamsa).

The BMW Group (including Mini sales) was next on 10 307 units (though this figure includes Naamsa estimates as the German company doesn’t regularly report sales), followed by Indian manufacturer Mahindra (9 131 units) in 13th. Mercedes-Benz was technically 14th with a likewise a Naamsa-estimated tally of 6 271 units, while Stellantis – which distributes the Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, Opel and Peugeot brands in SA – rounded out the top 15, some way off the pace on 3 101 units.

South Africa’s 10 best-selling automakers of 2023 so far

1. Toyota – 107 081 units (+13.5%)

2. Volkswagen Group – 50 074 units (-5.8%)

3. Suzuki – 37 235 units (+4.2%)

4. Hyundai – 24 213 units (-12.2%)

5. Ford – 22 993 units (+17.4%)

6. Nissan – 22 301 units (+0.6%)

7. Isuzu – 17 882 units (+15.7%)

8. Renault – 16 431 units (-23.8%)

9. Haval – 15 479 units (-3.8%)

10. Kia – 14 708 units (-15.7%)

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