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Car buying patterns changed
Volkswagen of South Africa launched the Citi in 1984 as its affordable car to compete in the entry-level segment. And affordable it remained as now, 36 years later, the VW Citi Golf proved to be the number one choice of a used car in the sub R50 000 category. Photo:SUPPLIED

LIFE in South Africa as we used to know it has changed dramatically under lockdown. So too have car buying patterns.

For instance, searches for second-hand cars under R50 000 increased by almost 300% versus normal pre-lockdown levels during lockdown level 5. And the specific vehicle bought reveals some very interesting trends.

According to Nikki Chennels from have-yoursayza, statistics are based on an analysis of vehicles sold on AutoTrader from 1 May to 7 June 2020.

In a statement issued by haveyoursayza, it shows the number one choice of car in the sub R50 000 category is the iconic Volkswagen Citi Golf.

A uniquely South African success story, the Citi made its first appearance on South African roads in 1984, six years after Golf 1 was introduced in this country. Volkswagen of South Africa launched the Citi as its affordable car to compete in the entry-level segment following the introduction of a bigger and more expensive Golf 2 – the “Jumbo” Golf, as it became affectionately known.

“South Africans fell in love with the affordable and cheerful Citi. Volkswagen sold over 370 000 of these cars. It is interesting to see that the love affair of South Africans with the Citi endures to this day,” comments George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

Back in November 2009, the price of the very last Citi model – the limited-edition Citi Mk1 – was R113 500. Lockdown shoppers have been paying a fraction of that: R37 691 on average (for vehicles with an average registration year of 2004 and an average mileage of 192 180 km).

Mienie notes that it’s also interesting to see that there are some great deals available on luxury German cars.

“Buyers obviously need to be willing to accept average mileages of around 250 000km – but, at an average price of R37 229 for a BMW 3 Series and R36 615 for a Mercedes-Benz C-Class – there are clearly some good deals to be had,” he comments.

While the consumer emphasis has very much been on the sub-R50 000 sector, Mienie reveals that searches in this price category are petering off. “We are seeing a return to pre-lockdown activity, where searches for cars R100k and less, or R200k and less, are becoming more popular again. Sub- R50 000 searches decreased by 40% while R100k searches increased by 22% and R200K searches increased by a whopping 51%,” he reports.

According to Mienie, the return to R100k and R200k searches is likely due to industries opening up, people going back to work under Lockdown level 3, but also, is more than likely, an acceleration in the swing from new cars to used cars by consumers still under financial pressure.

Here are the top 10 used cars sold:

(rank, make, model, average selling price and mileage, registration year)

1 Volkswagen Citi, R37 691, 192 180km, 2004

2 BMW 3 series, R37 229, 245 706km, 2003

3 Opel Corsa, R35 327, 179 607km, 2002

4 Opel Corsa Lite, R35 380, 146 280km, 2006

5 Volkswagen Polo, R43 357, 240 857km, 2004

6 Ford Fiesta, R33 831, 215 154km, 2004

7 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, R36 615, 260 550km, 2000

8 Atos Prime, R38 750, 148 917km, 2006

9 Chery QQ3, R38 150, 66 091km, 2013

10 Renault Scenic, R35 245, 173 336, 2005

. Source: AutoTrader, 1 May to 7 June 2020

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