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SA's most popular cars: How VW's Polo hatch beat Toyota's Hilux bakkie to become No.1

2018-09-06 07:53

Lance Branquinho

Image: Quickpic

In the year where South Africa has seen the introduction of a Mercedes-Benz bakkie and Hilux/Ranger have dominated the monthly vehicle sales volumes, August was a revelation.

As the country prepared for the transition from Winter and Spring, South Africans bought a specific hatchback model in huge volumes, numbers large enough to have outranked the mighty Hilux range.

Close competition

After sales data had been collated for August, VW’s Polo proved most successful with 3414 units, edging out Hilux by a mere 48 units.

Best-selling bakkies: Toyota Hilux dominates in August

For VW it’s a choice victory at a time when Toyota has just expanded its Hilux offering to become the most diverse model range on sale in South Africa. Despite Polo being the more expensive of VW’s compact hatchbacks, it handsomely outsold Vivo in August.

                                                                Image: Quickpic

Understanding where the additional Polo sales volume sourced from for August is challenging. Cannibalisation isn’t a sufficient answer, as Polo certainly did not dilute Golf 7 sales month-to-month.

Hilux to make a comeback

In August, the Golf 7 sold 3 more units than it did in July, so there was no dilution of the larger VW premium hatchback from its smaller sibling’s greater sales.

If Polo didn’t cannibalise from Golf 7, is there a case to be made for it capturing Vivo volumes? Could incentive deals perhaps have enticed Vivo buyers to make the jump into an entry-level Polo instead of a Highline or GT-specification Vivo? From July to August Vivo sales were down by 421 units, which is perhaps a credible part of exampling where some the record month sales volume sourced for Polo.

                                                                   Image: Wheels24

Could Polo repeat its performance in September and again be victorious over Hilux? That is an unlikely scenario. The margin of victory over Hilux was very small, only 48 units, and Toyota’s additional bakkie derivatives should prove hugely popular, driving total sales momentum.

September will be the first month where Toyota’s larger Hilux range will on sale for four consecutive weeks, whereas the upgrades were announced late last month and could not influence overall sales for August.

Polo still the popular choice

As such, VW’s Polo victory is unusual and could be more attributable to Hilux transitioning and settling the inventory supply chain for its expanded range, than anything else.

                                                                  Image: Quickpic

What is beyond doubt, is that Polo remains unassailable within its segment. None of its rivals come close to competing. Where Polo totalled 3414 sales last month Renault’s Clio sold 408, Ford’s Fiesta recorded 393 units, Nissan’s new Micra 219 and the Mazda2 was delivered to 217 new owners.

The sales numbers for August do illustrate that VW absolutely dominates the hatchback market in South African. Scaling to a sales volume greater than 3000 units also shows that there are enough urban drivers who still see value in having five-doors and compact dimensions for crowded city driving – as opposed to a double-cab bakkie.

We've included total sales for Hilux, Polo and Polo Vivo below:


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