Despite a 7,8% inflation rate and a hard economic situation, South Africans are still interested in changing and acquiring their cars. Taking a look at what -and how- people search on the trading websites provides an overview of the automotive market and its challenges.

The car industry has been highly volatile since the pandemic. Production pauses, chip shortage, delivery delays and price’s increases and decreases were just some of the obstacles that global and local industry had to face. 

To understand how the car market is going at this moment, it is important not only to analyze the industrial sector but also consider the purchase intentions of consumers. In that line, The South Africa’s Autotrader Car Industry Report Mid-Year Report (January 2022-June 2022) can help us highlight some relevant facts.

This report gives us information about South Africans interest by analyzing the 349 million searches conducted on Autotrader’s website through the first 6 months of 2022.

So, what kind of car do South Africans search for?

When choosing a car, there are many characteristics to take into account: model, year, mileage and, of course, price. In this respect, the average mileage of the cars was 77,147 km and its average price was R423,964 ($25,000).

Price is an important element and plays a major part at the moment of making a decision. Certainly, it is not only about the car price. There are other elements that equally can affect our budget such as maintenance costs. Into that category must be considered car insurance quotes, fuel consumption and spare part costs. The relevance of these items shows that, maybe, you can have saved money for buying the car of your dreams, but later you don’t have the periodic income to sustain it. 

Related to it, the Autotrader Report indicates that the use of ‘fuel-type’ filter by car shoppers has registered a 27% increase compared to 2021. Market specialists see this rise as a consequence of permanent and fast changes of diesel and petrol prices. It means that consumers’ attention to fuel or energy consumption is growing. 

Which fuel type do South Africans search for?

Traditional fuels searches, like diesel and petrol fuel , showed an increase of 24% and 26% respectively. The growth is modest compared to other kinds of fuel types (specially renewables).

Actually, in the first six months of this year, searches for hybrids increased 129%, while electric fuel type searches raised 100%, reflecting an historic interest for electric cars in the country.

This enthusiasm for EVs is not new. A last year survey, included in the report of that period, informed that more than 70% of South Africans would prefer to buy an electric model if they could arrange one by spending less than R500,000 ($30,000).

The thing is that, till today, there is only one electric vehicle priced below that amount: the 7-year-old Leaf (Nissan) for $385,000.

It seems that the electric car market has a lot to do yet to make them more affordable so they can really compete with the traditional ones.