South Africa's best-selling vehicle, the Toyota Hilux, is 6.1 percent more expensive than it was a year ago. Price hikes amongst SA's top-selling vehicles varied between 3 percent and 16.6 percent.

Johannesburg - The start of a new year brought with it the usual new-vehicle price increases in South Africa, with most brands hiking their prices across the board in January.

The price inflation is generally lower than it should be given the depreciating Rand, as motor companies try and absorb increases as best they can in the light of declining vehicle sales which slumped 4.1 percent last year compared with 2014.

The trend continued at the start of 2016 with January sales down 6.9% compared to January 2015, and with consumers tightening their belts in the weak economic climate, new-vehicle sales are expected to plummet further following the recent interest-rate hike and more increases likely to come.

Buyers switch to used cars for value

Prices of SA’s top-selling vehicles went up around 7.4 percent over the last 12 months, against a backdrop of the Rand taking a much bigger beating than that against major trading currencies. From January 2015 to January 2016 our currency depreciated 40 percent against the Yen, 38 percent against the dollar, and 36 percent against the Euro.

Although the Rand’s depreciation mostly affects imported vehicles, locally-produced vehicles are not immune to currency fluctuations as many automotive components and materials are purchased overseas.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE

Amongst the general doom and gloom in vehicle pricing there have been a few inflation-beating price cuts to certain vehicle ranges, however. For instance, last month Chinese importer GWM slashed prices on several of its Steed bakkies by up to 17 percent and on its H5 SUV by up to 28 percent.

If you’re buying a Polo sedan you’ll pay between 1 and 2 percent less on certain derivatives than you did for them this time last year, after Volkswagen trimmed the prices in October and threw in a three-year/45 000km service plan as standard (it was an extra-cost option before).

The much-more-popular Polo hatch has in the same period increased in price by 5.5 percent.

Ford also slashed prices by up to R28 000 on its 1-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol Fiestas in April last year. Even with last month’s across-the-board price increases you’ll still pay around 2.5 percent less for these particular Fiesta derivatives than in January 2015 (although on average the entire Fiesta range is 3.6 percent pricier).

We’re referring here to recommended retail prices, which don’t take into account discounts that may be offered by dealerships. There are good deals available to consumers who shop around, particularly with vehicles that are coming to the end of their life cycles as for example the venerable Toyota Hilux which is being replaced by the new version later this month.

TRACKING 2015’S INFLATION

The table alongside lists South Africa’s top-30 selling vehicle ranges last year and by what percentage their retail prices increased from January 2015 to January 2016.

It shows that over a 12 month period, price hikes were generally around 6-8 percent although in certain cases, particularly Korean brands Kia and Hyundai, they were much steeper.

The vehicles marked in bold were replaced during 2015 by upgraded or facelifted models, which explains why their price increases were generally (though not always) higher than vehicles that had no enhancements.

Vehicle (Units sold in 2015) Price increase in 2015

1 Toyota Hilux (35 684) 6.1%

2 Ford Ranger (33 916) 8 %

3 VW Polo Vivo Hatch (24 544) 5.7%

4 VW Polo hatch (22 758) 5.5%

5 Nissan NP200 (18 124) 8.8%

6 Chevrolet Utility (16 341) 7.8%

7 Isuzu KB (16 318) 10%

8 Toyota Etios (16 270) 9.4%

9 Mercedes C-Class (12 562) 7%

10 Toyota Quest (11 975) 3%

11 Toyota Quantum (11 894) 6.6%

12 Hyundai i20 (11 700) 13.2%

13 Ford EcoSport (11 626) 8.8%

14 Toyota Corolla (11 567) 5.3%

15 Ford Fiesta (10 462) 3.6%

* 16 Ford Figo (9 892) 16.6%

17 Hyundai Grand i10 (8 996) 13.9%

18 BMW 3 Series (8 485) 3.1%

19 Toyota Fortuner (8 385) 6.1%

20 Nissan NP300 Hardbody (8 219) 6.8 %

21 VW Golf (6 883) - 6.2%

22 VW Polo Vivo Sedan (6 840) 6.4%

23 Renault Sandero (7 110) 6.1%

24 Kia Rio (6 479) 14.2%

25 Datsun Go (5 645) 11.6%

26 Chevrolet Spark (5 412) 9.5%

27 Toyota Rav (5 306) 4.9%

28 Renault Clio (5 280) 3.4%

29 Toyota Avanza (4 801) 9.6%

30 Hyundai iX35 (4 643) 5.1%

* The Ford Figo was replaced in 2015 by the new-generation Figo with greatly improved technology, specification levels and safety, hence the high 16.6 percent price increase.

Sales data supplied by Naamsa

Price data supplied by Duoporta