New vehicle sales nosedive by biggest monthly figure so far in May
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New vehicle sales nosedive by biggest monthly figure so far in May

A negative result across the various segment amounted to the ninth decrease in ten months.

The national elections has been cited as one of the reasons for South Africa’s new vehicle sales reversing its gains from April and ending in the red by a considerable margin in May.

Proudly local

Although somewhat better that in April, individual models again failed to crack 2 500 units – the Toyota Hilux extending its gains over the Ford Ranger by moving 2 367 versus 2 216 units.

Keeping station in third, the Volkswagen Polo Vivo headed a resurgent Toyota Corolla Cross with respective sales of 1 817 and 1 543, while the Isuzu D-Max placed fifth on 1 282, making the top five an all locally assembled affair.

Dropping from fourth in April to sixth in May, the Suzuki Swift remained the best-selling imported vehicle on 1 239, followed by the also Indian-made Hyundai Grand i10 on 1 117.

Retaining its eighth place from the previous month, the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro finally eclipsed the 1 000 unit mark with its 1 101 placing it ahead of the 1 047 recorded by the Toyota Starlet.

Improving a single notch to finish tenth, the Volkswagen Polo rounded off a largely South African assembled top 10 with sales of 888 units.

Month in detail

Attributing not only the elections, but also the number of public holidays for the slump, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) recorded one of the biggest downturns of the year so far with a decline of 14.2% from last year’s 43 242 to 37 105.

Unsurprisingly, all of the respective segments ended in the red with passenger vehicle sales tumbling 11.7% from 27 579 to 24 367, and light commercial vehicles by 19.5% from 12 832 to 10 334.

Not as hard but still extensive, medium-duty commercial vehicles shed 7.3% to end on 533 versus May last year’s 575, and heavy-duty commercials 17.1% from 2 256 to 1 871.

After dropping over 23% year-on-year in April, new vehicle exports regained some ground in May, but still dropped 19.1% from 2023’s 29 947 to 24 235.

naamsa reaction

“The positive performance in the new vehicle market during April 2024 was short-lived as national election jitters likely put a hold on purchases of big-ticket items such as vehicles, along with an additional public holiday during the month,” Naamsa said.

“A welcomed development was a second consecutive full month of no loadshedding, while oil prices have remained relatively low due to sluggish demand in the global markets, which support the manufacturing industry.

“The South African Reserve Bank have held interest rate unchanged for the sixth consecutive meeting but now saw inflation only stabilising at its mid-point of 4,5% in the second quarter of 2025.

It concluded by saying, “while this is of some comfort to indebted consumers, the high lending rate combined with high inflation and relatively lower household income, will continue to negatively impact the new vehicle market”.

‘Back-to-normal’ top three

After unseating Volkswagen as the second best-selling brand in April, Suzuki returned to its customary third step on the podium in May with sales of 4 101 units versus Wolfsburg’s 4 939.

Still placed first and despite the sales downturn, Toyota improved on its April figures by moving a total of 8 795 units in May – an uptake of 254.

Behind the top three, Ford and Hyundai kept station in fourth and fifth places, the former on 2 860 and the latter on 2 185.

Jumping a single place to sixth at the expense of Chery was Isuzu, whose 1 626 saw it just beat-out the Chinese marque’s 1 609, now back below 2 000 units as a result of the Omoda and Jaecoo divisions not being included.

In a reversal of April, Nissan edged passed Great Wall Motors (GWM) to finish eighth on 1 522 compared to 1 205, while Renault stayed put in tenth place on 1 110.

May top 50 best-selling cars

  1. Toyota Hilux – 2 367
  2. Ford Ranger – 2 216
  3. Volkswagen Polo Vivo – 1 817
  4. Toyota Corolla Cross – 1 543
  5. Isuzu D-Max – 1 282
  6. Suzuki Swift – 1 239
  7. Hyundai Grand i10 – 1 117
  8. Chery Tiggo 4 Pro – 1 101
  9. Toyota Starlet – 1 047
  10. Volkswagen Polo – 888
  11. Nissan Magnite – 774
  12. Toyota Fortuner – 763
  13. Mahindra Pik Up – 716
  14. Suzuki Baleno – 578
  15. Haval Jolion – 572
  16. Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series – 480
  17. Suzuki Fronx – 474
  18. Volkswagen T-Cross – 451
  19. Nissan Navara – 423
  20. Toyota Vitz – 423
  21. Toyota HiAce – 417
  22. Renault Kiger – 406
  23. Kia Sonet – 379
  24. Toyota Rumion – 370
  25. Chery Tiggo 7 Pro – 342
  26. Hyundai i20 – 337
  27. Renault Kwid – 330
  28. Volkswagen Amarok – 325
  29. Suzuki Grand Vitara – 324
  30. Suzuki Ertiga – 314
  31. Suzuki Jimny – 309
  32. Toyota Urban Cruiser – 301
  33. Nissan NP200 – 297
  34. Haval H6 – 272
  35. Suzuki S-Presso – 266
  36. Ford Territory – 266
  37. Volkswagen T6.1 – 236
  38. Volkswagen Polo Sedan – 234
  39. Toyota Corolla Quest – 227
  40. Ford Everest – 220
  41. Kia Seltos – 219
  42. GWM P-Series – 205
  43. Hyundai H100 – 199
  44. Renault Triber 196
  45. Toyota Land Cruiser 300 – 175
  46. Hyundai Venue – 171
  47. Chery Tiggo 8 Pro – 166
  48. Citroën C3 – 163
  49. Suzuki Eeco – 161
  50. Audi Q3 – 156