Thursday, December 9

Car Trends in SA: Interview with Papi Mabele


With PriceCheck Cars having been launched recently, we wanted know the state of SA’s car market. So, we asked motor-vehicle maverick, Papi Mabele, his thoughts on car trends in South Africa.

1. In terms of automobiles, how is the luxury car segment performing in South Africa at the moment? Are we seeing a decline in sales?

We’ve definitely seen a decline in the luxury segment as consumers opt for more affordable entry level and second hand offerings and brands shift their focus to either compact utility vehicles and entry level variants.. To support this, the most recent Wesbank new vehicle sales lists the VW Polo, VW Polo Vivo and Toyota Fortuner as country’s top 3 selling passenger vehicles while the average value of new cars financed in SA is at R300 181.

2. Do you see car manufacturers embracing online platforms as a means to sell their cars?
Yes, especially brands such as Ford, BMW, Peugeot and VW. These brands are only a few that have really implemented  the use of online platforms and services thoroughly in their marketing objectives. Notably, Peugeot has a dedicated e-service where customers can liaise directly with sales consultants over e-mail or online chat.

3. How is the electric car segment performing at the moment? Considering that cars such as the BMW i3 and i8 are very expensive and therefore not accessible to the majority of consumers. Do you see a increase in sales on the horizon?

Surprisingly, since market introduction in March 2015, a total of 419 BMW i models have been delivered to customers in South Africa. The BMW i3 alone has sold 203 units, making it the most successful EV in Mzansi yet, followed by the Nissan leaf and other hybrids from BMW and Volvo. The trend, or rather, shift to electric vehicles is slowly starting to pick up in SA. Yes they might be expensive and not as easily accessible, but we’ve seen brands vest a lot in EV infrastructure (charging stations etc.) as the trend grows in efforts to make them more accessible. Millenials are also starting to embrace the benefits of EVs.

Papi’s favourite car: Rolls Royce Dawn

4. In your opinion, is it better to purchase a brand new or a used car? What are the pros and cons?

I would definitely say it depends on the consumers buying power and influence to the ‘brand new vs used’ decision. Factors such as budget and what features one looks into when shopping for a car are at play here.

5. Do you feel that the super-luxe category of cars e.g. Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Bentley still have a future in the South African market?

Indeed they do! Although we don’t have specific figures to share, these brands are still enjoying sunny days in SA. Surprisingly so, both Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin drivers are a lot younger than one would think with the global average age of a Rolls-Royce customer coming in at 45 years old, down from 56 seven years ago,

6. What are your thoughts about the affordability of city cars e.g. Toyota Aygo, Honda Brio? Their price seem to have increased significantly over the last 5 years?

Compact cars are all the rage. With the recession affecting budgets, more and more buyers are prepared to sacrifice cabin space for reliability and affordability. I for one cannot fit in either the Toyota Aygo or Honda Brio (because, leg room). The price hike is greatly affected by the unstable economy and demand for these city cars.

7. Hatchbacks – is there an increase in the appeal / purchase of them in South Africa?

Similar to city cars, consumers are starting to explore hatchbacks for their reliability and affordability.

8. What are your thoughts about the PriceCheck Car platform? Do you find it useful? Would you use it as a means of researching and ultimately purchasing a car?

It’s very easy to navigate and offers all the essential info as first look on the listings. I would definitely use it in the near future again.


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