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SA car sales heroes: Hyundai becomes a powerhouse, Bentley’s an SUV business now in Mzansi

2018-08-16 09:15

Lance Branquinho

From Hyundai becoming increasingly popular to Bentley selling more of its new Bentayga SUV than any other model in its line-up, Lance Branquinho looks at some car sales heroes in South Africa during July. 

Humble Hyundai and its inoffensive, value-orientated, Korean cars. The perception has always been one of a vanilla brand, but with a burgeoning range of product at all the correct price points below R500 000, Hyundai does an impressive trade in South Africa.

A decade ago Hyundai was still viewed as a poor relation of the Asian car industry, an alternative for those who were price constrained and unable to buy a Japanese product. Not anymore.

Hyundai becoming a force

In 2018, a great deal of South Africans prefer Hyundai and to illustrate how the Korean brand has displaced many of its Japanese rivals, you need only compare the monthly numbers.

READ: Arriving on African shores: Hyundai adds stylish new Kona to its compact SUV range

In July Hyundai sold 3150 vehicles in South Africa. To give some weight to that number, it’s more than Honda, Mazda, Subaru, and Suzuki combined. If Hyundai adds a double-cab bakkie in future it will truly become the Korean Toyota of our local automotive market. 

Bentley’s an SUV business now

The iconic British brand, which has always been equal parts luxury and high-performance in its offering, has recently added a new characteristic: gravel travel.

Bentley’s Bentayga has revolutionised the local product portfolio and if you need any evidence of how robust demand for ultra-luxury SUVs are, they sold eight of their high-riding models last month.

And that’s also all they sold – Bentaygas.

                                                                Image: Janine Van der Post/Wheels24

Not a single other Bentley model was ordered or delivered. For those who criticised the notion of a Bentley SUV, the sales numbers obliterate any argument against Bentayga having been an excellent business decision by the brand.  

Mahindra sold more hardcore 'Jeeps' than Jeep

Jeep is currently mired in legal action to prevent Mahindra from exporting its Roxor to the American market. The argument is that the Indian imitation is too similar in nuance to previous generations of Jeep’s iconic Wrangler. In South Africa, we know the Roxor as a Mahindra Thar.

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It’s quite cheap (R222 995) and not terribly sophisticated or pleasant to drive on-road but works a charm when you need to drive over the mountain and there is no road to do it on.

And South Africans appear to see a purpose for Mahindra’s Thar. In July, Mahindra moved 13 of them, as opposed to Jeep’s iconic Rubicon trail taming Wrangler, which only homed 11 new units locally. 

South Africans don’t love rear-wheel drive roadsters in winter

In Europe, you’ll find some of the most committed roadster drivers in the world. Despite temperatures which won’t see most South Africans even going into the garage to check on their car, Europeans will be driving with the roof down.

The South African indifference to roadster ownership and enjoyment is quite embarrassing, considering our abundance of fair weather. And it shows in the sales data too.

                                                                      Image: Charlen Raymond/Wheels24

For a market which should be in love with compact roadsters, which are cheap to run and fun to drive, we’re inexcusably uninterested to them. Brand doesn’t matter either, or price.

The Abarth 124 Spider is an Italian Mazda MX-5 and despite a greater than R100 000 difference in price between the two cars, they only each sold one example in depths of the South African winter: July. 

Tata nearly did a Nelson – sort of

If you are a keen cricket follower, you’ll know that 111 is considered the first of unlucky numbers in any innings – for the superstitiously minded.

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In July Tata did something amazing, by managing to sell only a single unit of each of its three passenger car offerings: Bolt (1), Indica (1) and Indica Visia (1). For numerologists, it would be a happy symmetry of coincidence (1-1-1-) but we’re sure Tata sales staff aren’t too thrilled.

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