First sprint in Merc's ferocious C 63 S

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SEE: This is the SUV that knocked the Fortuner of its best-seller perch

2019-05-03 09:58

Lance Branquinho

toyota fortuner

Image: Quickpic

April is always a difficult trading month in the automotive industry as all the public holidays prevent customers and dealerships from transacting. Those lost sales days make a very real impact on the April numbers, each year. But amongst last month’s local market sales data, there were some very thought-provoking trends. And startling performances.

The most notable of these happened within South Africa’s most dominant automotive brand: Toyota. For more than a decade the Fortuner has been by far the most popular and successful local market SUV. It is a sales phenomenon, with volumes limited more by supply and assembly constraints than customers demand.

READ: SA's best-selling passenger cars for April

But for the first month in recent memory, Fortuner did not rank as South Africa’s best-selling SUV. Which vehicle usurped the mighty Fortuner? It was the smaller Toyota SUV sibling, RAV4. The new Rav4 absolutely crushed South African SUV sales charts in April, with 839 units, besting Fortuner’s total of 816 sales by 2.7%. One very peculiar statistic was Suzuki seeing Jimny sales nearly doubling from 7 vehicles in March to 13 in April.

toyota fortuner

                                                                                      Image: iStock

Those volumes remain cripplingly low and one suspects that South African Jimny customers are facing an agonising wait for supply as global demand continuous to overwhelm Suzuki’s production output for its iconic compact 4x4. Beyond the intense rivalry between Toyota’s SUVs and Jimny’s low total sales, the German premium brands are also seeing a re-positioning.

Despite its much larger product portfolio, Mercedes-Benz lagged BMW in overall South African passenger vehicle sales during April. BMW sold 1446 vehicles locally, which is a substantial 26% more than Mercedes-Benz’s 1064. The introduction of new 3 Series can be credited for much of BMW’s advantage. The roles reversed when April exports for BMW and Mercedes-Benz were tallied. Although BMW managed to assemble 5729 X3s for export from its Rosslyn facility, Mercedes did even better in East London, building 8558 C-Class models for foreign markets. 

toyota fortuner

                                                                                         Image: Quickpic

Which manufacturer was the biggest South African vehicle exporter in April? That would be VW, who managed to build a staggering 9272 vehicles for export, with its Uitenhage factory running at very near peak capacity. After this month’s election, the automotive market and vehicle manufacturers are hoping for a return of stability in the local market, with some consolidation in what has been a haphazard sales year thus far. 

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