February vehicle sales: Suzuki’s threat to Volkswagen intensifies

Month ended on a flat note, but only marginally as exports firmed up by almost 30%.

South Africa’s new vehicle sales continued its downwards trajectory in February, albeit not on the same scale as January when it fell 3.8% on a month-to-month basis.

All change below Hilux

In a further reversal from January, nine of the country’s top 10 best-sellers found themselves in different places, the sole exception being the Toyota Hilux, whose 3 100 units saw it eclipse the 3 000 mark for the first time since November last year.

Swapping places with the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, the Ford Ranger moved to second place with sales of 2 187, while the Toyota Corolla Cross also displaced the Volkswagen to finish third on 1 959.

With 1 861 examples moved, the Kariega-built Vivo placed ahead of its Eastern Cape stablemate, the Isuzu D-Max, whose 1 740 units sold saw it jump two places from January.

Finishing sixth and seventh, the Suzuki Swift and Toyota Starlet kept station for the title of best-selling non-South African made product with respective sales of 1 627 and 1 481. Placing eighth on 1 313 units, was the also Indian-made Hyundai Grand i10.

Rounding the top 10 occupied by seven locally produced models off was the outgoing Nissan NP200 on 1 276 and the Toyota HiAce on 1 167.

Month in detail

Bouncing back after a poor start to the year, the February figures by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (naamsa) showed a meagre decline by 0.9% from the same time last year from 45 162 to 44 759 – the latter 3 113 higher than in the first month of 2024.

Out of the five market segments, a mixed picture prevailed with passenger car vehicle shedding 3.1% from 29 782 to 28 857, while light commercial vehicles went the other way by improving 2.5% from 12 878 to 13 306.

The same pattern applied to medium and heavy-duty commercials, the former dropping 7.7% from 699 to 649 and the latter going up 14% from 1 703 last year to 1 941 this year.

Reversing its losses from January though, new vehicle exports recorded the biggest uptake with an increase of 27.5% from last year’s 30 991 to 39 517 in 2024.

naamsa reacts

“The persisting economic strain remain a real concern for household income and the weak new vehicle market reflects that middle-income households are restricting big financial commitments for items such as vehicles at present,” Naamsa remarked in a statement.

“The ripple effect of higher interest rates, higher fuel prices and no relief for personal income-taxpayers in the 2024/2025 tax year would continue to impact household incomes for the foreseeable future.

“With the date of the 2024 South African general election announced to take place on 29 May, economic uncertainty remains the reality for most households and businesses”.

In addition to lauding the export numbers, Naamsa CEO, Mikel Mabasa, also praised the announced of support being given to new energy vehicles – comprising hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full EVs – following Finance Minster Enoch Godongwana’s Budget Speech last month.

“A notable component of the Minister’s announcement is the introduction of an investment allowance for new EV investments, set to commence in March 2026. This allowance enables businesses and investors involved in EV production to claim 150% of qualifying investment spending in the first year,” Mabasa said.

“This financial incentive is a crucial step in attracting investments, fostering innovation, and driving the growth of the EV sector within South Africa.

“The industry will continue to engage with Government to carefully manage some of the challenges associated with the implementation of the Automotive Production and Development Programme Phase 2 (APDP2), especially concerning vehicles with limited local content due to the location of battery production in Japan, South Korea, and China”.

Suzuki closer to Volkswagen than ever

Out of the country’s top 10 best-selling brands, a unchanged top three prevailed, although behind Toyota (11 524), Volkswagen edged-out Suzuki by a mere 112 units to only just keep its second place on the podium with total sales of 5 333 versus the Hamamatsu’s 5 221.

Fourth and fifth places also swapped with Nissan ranking above Ford, but only just, with 2 739 versus 2 732, while Hyundai kept its sixth position with 2 512.

Staying seventh and eighth were Isuzu and Haval with respective sales of 2 101 and 1 656.

After re-entering the top 10 last month at the expense of Kia, Chery jumped another position in February to ninth on 1 504, meaning Renault’s 1 316 saw it fell a single spot to 10th place.

February top 50 best-selling cars

  1. Toyota Hilux – 3 100
  2. Ford Ranger – 2 187
  3. Toyota Corolla Cross – 1 959
  4. Volkswagen Polo Vivo – 1 861
  5. Isuzu D-Max – 1 740
  6. Suzuki Swift – 1 627
  7. Toyota Starlet – 1 481
  8. Hyundai Grand i10 – 1 313
  9. Nissan NP200 – 1 276
  10. Toyota HiAce – 1 167
  11. Volkswagen Polo – 988
  12. Chery Tiggo 4 Pro – 946
  13. Nissan Magnite – 847
  14. Toyota Fortuner – 722
  15. Mahindra Pik Up – 715
  16. Suzuki Ertiga – 658
  17. Toyota Urban Cruiser – 649
  18. Suzuki Baleno – 585
  19. Haval H6 – 569
  20. Kia Sonet – 552
  21. Toyota Vitz – 550
  22. Haval Jolion – 544
  23. Volkswagen T-Cross – 530
  24. Renault Kiger – 484
  25. Nissan Navara – 449
  26. Hyundai i20 – 402
  27. GWM P-Series – 378
  28. Toyota Corolla Quest – 361
  29. Suzuki Jimny – 357
  30. Ford Everest – 353
  31. Suzuki Fronx – 347
  32. Renault Triber – 337
  33. Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series – 335
  34. Toyota Rumion – 333
  35. Suzuki S-Presso – 331
  36. Chery Tiggo 7 Pro – 328
  37. Volkswagen Amarok – 324
  38. Volkswagen Polo Sedan – 322
  39. Suzuki Grand Vitara – 282
  40. Renault Kwid – 280
  41. Suzuki Ciaz – 259
  42. Suzuki Celerio – 252
  43. Hyundai H100 – 225
  44. Chery Tiggo 8 Pro – 212
  45. Suzuki Eeco – 197
  46. Volkswagen Tiguan – 180
  47. Honda BR-V – 160
  48. Beijing X55 – 159
  49. Volkswagen T-Roc – 157
  50. Hyundai Staria – 155