Toyota Retains Crown As South Africa’s Favourite Car


  • Toyota retains its position as market leader for the 34th consecutive year
  • Toyota market share increase for the 3rd consecutive year
  • Industrial action and other production disruptions in the auto industry mute full year growth
  • Vehicle exports show marginal recovery
Market segment Full year 2012 Full year 2013 % change
Passenger vehicles 442 604 450 440 +1.8%
Light commercial vehicles 160 174 169 234 +5.7%
Medium commercial vehicles 10 104 11 595 +14.8%
Heavy commercial vehicles 4 982 5 477 +9.9%
Extra Heavy commercial vehicles 11 621 12 828 +10.4%
Bus 1 134 1 046 -7.8%
Vehicle exports 277 992 275 822 -0.8%
Overall market (local) 630 619 650 620 +3.2%

Toyota South Africa Motors ended a tough 2013 as South Africa’s best-selling vehicle brand, after selling 9 881 vehicles in December. This means that Toyota delivered 126 749 Toyota, Lexus and Hino vehicles to customers in 2013, representing a total of 19.5% of the overall market.

“We remain humbled by the success of the Toyota brand,” says Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors. “When we established the brand in South Africa in 1961, we focussed on establishing a wide dealer network that directly serves customers. Our network remains the largest of its kind in Southern Africa and our sales show that 4 out of every 5 Toyota vehicles were sold by our dealer network.”

Toyota sales grew by 4.5% in 2013 compared to the overall increase in vehicle sales of 3.2%. Total vehicle sales were recorded at 650 620, making it the best year since 2007. The growth rate has however declined from 16.1% in 2011 and 9% in 2012 to 3.2%. This is also well below the industry growth expectation of between 7% and 10%.

“The industry expected a more significant increase in sales, based on the low interest rate environment, the delayed replacement cycle of vehicles after sales peaked in 2006, extremely high levels of new vehicle introductions and retail marketing,” says Hamman.

“Unfortunately the various strikes in the automotive and component industries, followed by strikes by staff in the vehicle delivery industry disrupted sales for more than two months. The subsequent shortage of certain high volume models dampened the year’s local sales and export performance,” says Hamman.

“One should always evaluate December vehicle sales in conjunction with January sales, as many customers and dealers withhold vehicle registrations in December in order to record the new model year on the vehicle’s registration. Averaging sales over these two months should perhaps give a better indication of sales growth in 2013,” says Hamman.

According to Hamman the much publicised increase in living costs, spearheaded by the increasing fuel prices and Gauteng toll roads, had a greater influence on the type of vehicle sold, than the overall sales figures. He expects further growth in the entry-level vehicle segments, including A, B and Sub-B.

As example the Toyota Etios, a relative newcomer to the entry-level segment, recorded sales of over 1 865 units in the last month of the year, while the current Corolla, now in its last month of sales, retailed over 1 077 units in the same month.

Other Toyota models that performed well included the Hilux, at 2 659 sales South Africa’s best-selling vehicle, the Quantum and Ses’fikile taxi (1 041 units) and the Toyota Fortuner, which found 849 new homes in December.

Looking forward Hamman expects low single digit sales growth in 2014, while vehicle exports are expected to grow more significantly. Toyota exported 9 670 vehicles to over 58 countries in December.

Commercial vehicle sales showed a much better growth rate than light commercial and passenger vehicles, reaching a total sales figure of 30 946 in 2013.

“It is the first time in 7 years that we have broken through the 30 000 mark in the medium, heavy and extra heavy commercial vehicle market,” says Hamman. “We will keep an eye on commercial vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2014 to better understand if the market will stabilise at these numbers, as some analysts believe, or if the market will grow at the same tempo as the country’s gross domestic product growth, as others predict.”

“On the local front we expect further pressure on vehicle prices as the rand remains weak against major trading currencies. This will be exacerbated by further pressure on disposable income in 2014.

“On the positive side we expect a strong performance from the new Corolla, South Africa’s favourite sedan, and by a number of new vehicle introductions. We also expect significant investments in the automotive industry as the country’s manufacturers gear up for high volume local manufacturing in light of the government’s Automotive Production and Development Program, which was introduced last year,” says Hamman.

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