South Africans getting less for their used cars

  • AutoTrader has released its latest Car Industry Report for 2023, looking at the statistics and trends when it comes to cars in SA.
  • A potentially concerning figure is the fact that used cars sold for less on average in 2023 compared to the previous year.
  • EVs continues to be a growing category when it comes to the local motoring industry.

Online vehicle buying/selling marketplace AutoTrader has this week revealed its latest Car Industry Report, looking at some key statistics for the South African motoring landscape in 2023. The Report looks at elements like which car brands have proved most popular, the average price that each brand commands, and how many used cars were sold locally last year.

A potential concerning element in the Report is the average price that used cards sold for in 2023. Here the Report explains that used cars sold on average for R399 163 in 2023, which represents a 7.6 percent decline compared to the 2022 average figure of R432 407.

While it’s unclear precisely why this trend has taken place, AutoTrader does highlight the fact that a global economic downturn and higher cost of living have resulted in more South Africans turning to used cars instead of buying one fresh off the showroom floor.

“The new vehicle market declined for five consecutive months during the second half of the year as the financial strain on consumers, due to high interest rates and a sluggish economy, impacted negatively on new vehicle demand, although the record vehicle exports supported vehicle production considering that 67% of vehicle production was exported in 2023,” noted the Automotive Business Council (naamsa).

“The supply chain disruptions caused by the port challenges on vehicle production and sales during the last quarter exacerbated the dampened consumer and business confidence further due to the cost impact on the economy,” it added regarding the issues plaguing the new vehicle market of late.

As such, used cars are proving a more enticing prospect, but more so for buyers than sellers. Interestingly, however, while there were roughly 17 consumer searches every second on the AutoTrader platform in 2023 at a total of 466 million, this actually represented a 16 percent decline compared to 2022.

Still the online marketplace still proves wildly popular as, “since 2019, visits to AutoTrader have increased by 97%, and there is a continued growth into 2024, with an 11% increase in in market car shoppers this year,” according to CEO George Mienie.

One of the other aspects that Mienie highlighted was the increasing interest in electric vehicles (EVs). We may be seeing more EVs entering the country every quarter, but in order for this segment to truly take off, quite a bit more will need to be done from an ecosystem perspective.

“Driving a meaningful NEV transition in South Africa will require a careful balance between incentivising a sustained shift in domestic market demand to NEVs; establishing an appropriately aligned, renewable energy-based charging infrastructure; and supporting a shift in South African vehicle production, away from ICE vehicles to a mix of hybrid electric vehicles [HEVs], plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs),” highlighted naamsa.

“The long-awaited EV White Paper was finally unveiled by the DTIC (The Department of Trade Industry and Competition) in December 2023 and signals the government’s commitment to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and other eco-friendly modes of transport. The policy supports investments in the development and expansion of new and existing manufacturing plants to support the production of electric vehicles in the country,” AutoTrader pointed out.

“The details for this policy have been announced in the 2024 Budget Speech with considerations to domestic market demand stimulus measures, establishment of renewable energy-based charging infrastructure, and production support,” it concluded.

To download (PDF) and read the 2023 AutoTrader Car Industry Report yourself, head here.


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