Volkswagen Polos and Polo Vivos are the most-sold cars on Autotrader's website, but BMWs are the most-searched. And white cars rule. Picture: SUPPLIED
Volkswagen Polos and Polo Vivos are the most-sold cars on Autotrader's website, but BMWs are the most-searched. And white cars rule. Picture: SUPPLIED

Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo lead the list of top 10 most-sold vehicles on Autotrader’s website, though BMW is the most searched-for brand.

These are some of the findings in a report published by AutoTrader which reveals deep-dive insights into SA’s car market.

The Car Industry Report derives its data from what is said to be the most detailed and comprehensive vehicle database yet seen in the local automotive industry.

George Mienie, CEO of AutoTrader, says that search data pertaining to the site is a highly accurate barometer of consumer preferences and buying patterns.

Here are eight interesting facts to emerge from the study:

1. BMW is the most searched-for car brand

While Volkswagen reigns when it comes to new-car sales, BMW is the most searched-for brand online.

According to Mienie, 7.1% of all online searches on AutoTrader go to the BMW brand. “The total number of online searches in all vehicle categories is also growing,” he says. “In fact, total searches reached an all-time high of 290-million over the period reported on in the report (July 2018 to June 2019). This represents about 30% growth year on year.”

2. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the most searched-for car derivative

The Toyota Hilux is SA’s top-selling new vehicle and is the most searched-for range, but the honour of the most searched-for variant falls to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. “Interestingly, two other Volkswagen derivatives — the Polo GTI and Golf R — are in second and third place in the variant rankings,” says Mienie.

3. Bakkies rule when it comes to body-type searches

The love affair of South Africans with bakkies is borne out in the statistics: of all body-type searches, single- and double-cab bakkies generated the highest search volume.

“It will come as no surprise to learn that the iconic Toyota Hilux was both the most searched-for single cab and the most searched-for double cab,” says Mienie.

4. The average mileage for all car sales is 74,316km

The average mileage of the top 10 most popular cars sold was 78,952km. “This reinforces the long-held view that sub-100,000km vehicles are the most desirable,” says Mienie.

5. The average price for all car sales is R280,309

The average price for the top 10 most popular cars sold on the site was R268,471.  “I’m delighted to add to this an important statistic: 84% of all cars listed on AutoTrader were sold during the past year,” says Mienie.

6. More Volkswagen Polos were sold than any other car

The Volkswagen Polo pipped the Toyota Hilux to the post, relegating the bakkie to fourth spot. In second and third place respectively were the Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Ford Ranger. Rounding off the top five was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. “The Polo sold 88% of its total stock at an average price of R212,748, with an average year model of 2015 and an average mileage of 53,360km,” says Mienie.

A comprehensive breakdown of the top 10 with average mileage and pricing is contained within the report.

7. White is the most searched-for colour — by far

South Africans aren’t very adventurous when it comes to colours. White is a far more searched colour than any other. “"White received a whopping 1,158,866 searches nationally, followed by black (173,338) and silver (131,703),” says Mienie.

Blue was next with 108,978 searches.

8. Four brands dominate in fuel-type searches*

Toyota is the most searched-for brand when it comes to hybrids, BMW is the most searched-for electric brand, Volkswagen is the most searched-for petrol brand and Toyota is the most searched-for diesel brand.

“Diesel leads the searches, with petrol in second, hybrids in third and electric in fourth spot. It will be interesting to see how this changes in years to come. We will almost certainly see a change in buying patterns, with hybrids and electric vehicles gaining momentum,” says Mienie.

* Electric cars are currently not available from certain car brands. However consumers still performed searches for these brands (eg searches for electric vehicles from Toyota).

An electronic copy of the AutoTrader Car Industry Report can be downloaded at reports.autotrader.co.za/industry


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Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo lead the list of top ten most-sold vehicles on Autotrader’s website, although BMW is the most searched-for brand. Picture: SUPPLIED
Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo lead the list of top ten most-sold vehicles on Autotrader’s website, although BMW is the most searched-for brand. Picture: SUPPLIED