The latest AutoTrader vehicle report has been released, revealing brand new insights into South Africa’s automotive industry. The Car Industry Report is the culmination of extensive data gathering and database analyses that shed light on the current state of the motoring sector.

The report includes search statistics from the AutoTrader website that show the latest consumer preferences and purchasing patterns. Here are some of the key stats from the report:

BMW is the most searched-for vehicle brand in South Africa

Consumers search for BMW more than any other brand in South Africa. While Volkswagen still remains the country’s best-selling brand, BMW accounts for more online searches. AutoTrader chief executive officer George Mienie says that 7.1% of all online searches are for BMW.

“The total number of online searches in all vehicle categories is also growing,” says Mienie. “In fact, total searches reached an all-time high of 290 million over the period reported on in the report. This represents approximately 30% growth year-on-year,” he explains.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the most searched-for vehicle variant

BMW may be the most searched-for brand overall, but the VW Golf GTI is the most popular car variant. “Interestingly, two other Volkswagen derivatives – the Polo GTI and Golf R – are in second and third place in the variant rankings,” says Mienie.

Bakkies are the most popular body type

South Africans love a good bakkie, as proven by the report statistics. Of all body type searches, single- and double-cab bakkies generated the highest search volume. “It will come as no surprise to learn that the iconic Toyota Hilux was both the most searched-for single cab and the most searched-for double cab,” states Mienie.

Average mileage for vehicle sales

The average mileage on vehicles for sale in South Africa is 74 316 km. In terms of the top 10 second-hand car models, the average mileage increases to 78 952 km – as expected since most vehicles owners decide to sell their cars at around 80 000 km. “This reinforces the long-held view that sub-100 000 km vehicles are the most desirable,” says Mienie.

Average price for all car sales

The average selling price of all cars in South Africa is R280 309. In terms of the top 10 car models, the average selling price increases to R268 471. “I’m delighted to add to this an important statistic; 84% of all cars listed on AutoTrader were sold during the past year,” states Mienie.

More VW Polos are sold than any other car

The Volkswagen Polo is the top-selling vehicle in South Africa. The second-most popular is the VW Polo Vivo, narrowly beating the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux. “The Polo sold 88% of its total stock at an average price of R212 748, with an average year model of 2015 and an average mileage of 53 360 km,” explains Mienie.

White is the most popular car colour

White is, by far, the most popular colour for vehicles in South Africa. White was the colour of choice for a total of 1 158 866 searches in South Africa, followed by black (173 338) and silver (131 703).

Three brands dominate searches by fuel type

When it comes to online searches by fuel type, three brands dominate the rankings. Toyota is the most searched-for brand when it comes to diesel cars (due to the Hilux and Fortuner) as well as hybrids (due to the Prius). Volkswagen is the most popular petrol brand and BMW is the most sought-after electric brand (due to the i3 and i8).

“Diesel currently leads the searches, with petrol in second, hybrids in third and electric in fourth spot. It will be interesting to see how this changes in years to come. We will almost certainly see a change in buying patterns going forward – with hybrids and electric vehicles gaining momentum,” suggests Mienie.

These insights from The Car Industry Report show what South African consumers want when it comes to vehicles. Car brands can use this information to tap into consumer needs and update their offerings in the future. These stats paint a picture of the current buying trends but also suggest where the future of the car industry is likely to go.


Formex Industries is a metal forming and assembly company that supplies a variety of complex products to the local automotive industry and the export market. The company is based in the Nelson Mandela Bay metropole, South Africa’s foremost region for automotive manufacturing and export.

Formex specialises in producing components for the catalytic converter industry, as well as metal components and assemblies for the various vehicles. Formex aims to become one of the foremost suppliers for the South African automotive industry by 2035, aligning itself with the South African Automotive Masterplan (SAAM) which takes effect in 2020.

Formex is a Level 2 B-BBEE supplier with over 80% black ownership, of which more than 40% are black women. The company is owned by Deneb Investments Limited – a subsidiary of Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited (HCI) – one of South Africa’s biggest true B-BBEE companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

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