JOHANNESBURG – 2019 was another somber year for the South African motor industry, with overall vehicle sales decreasing by 2.8 percent, from 552 227 units in 2018 to 536 626 last year, according to figures released by Naamsa.

This was a continuation of the gradual decline that’s been taking place since 2013, with 2017 being the only year in that period in which marginal growth was achieved.

Last year’s sales decline came in spite of a strong contribution by the rental car industry as well as low inflation that, says Naamsa, made vehicles more affordable in real terms.

The only real silver lining for the industry was an impressive 10.2 percent year-on-year growth in vehicle exports, culminating in an all-time record of 386 863 units shipped overseas.

On the local sales front, buyers continued to gravitate towards entry-level hatchbacks as well as smaller SUVs, as you’ll see in the top 10 list below. In fact, the stellar performance by Renault’s Kwid, which made eighth place overall, shows that the market is hungry for more affordable vehicles.

South Africa is still very much a bakkie country though, with Toyota’s Hilux leading by a country mile, and it’s also interesting to note that four of the nation’s top selling vehicles in 2019 were bakkies.

These were South Africa’s top choices last year:


1. Toyota Hilux 

Total sold – 2019: 40 934

Monthly average: 3411

2. Volkswagen Polo Vivo 

Total sold – 2019: 29 618

Monthly average: 2468

3. Ford Ranger

Total sold – 2019: 25 042

Monthly average: 2086

4. Volkswagen Polo

Total sold – 2019: 21 563

Monthly average: 1797

5. Nissan NP200

Total sold – 2019: 17 937

Monthly average: 1495

6. Toyota Hi-Ace / Ses’Fikile

Total sold – 2019: 16 902

Monthly average: 1409

7. Isuzu D-Max / KB

Total sold – 2019: 16 131

Monthly average: 1344

8. Renault Kwid

Total sold – 2019: 11 848

Monthly average: 987

9. Toyota Fortuner

Total sold – 2019: 11 644

Monthly average: 970

10. Ford EcoSport

Total sold – 2019: 9802

Monthly average: 817

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