The soon-to-be-replaced VW Polo Vivo was SA's top selling passenger vehicle in December.

Johannesburg - South African new vehicle sales grew for the first time in four years in 2017, albeit by a modest 1.8 percent over the previous year.

Despite December 2017’s year-on-year sales declining 2.4 percent, the year-to-date new-vehicle sales for 2017 still grew to 557 586 units from the 547 547 units sold in 2016. Cars made up the bulk of sales in 2017 with 368 068 units (1.9 percent up on the year before), followed by light commercials on 163 346 units (+2.6 percent), heavy trucks and buses on 18 387 (-1.6 percent), and medium commercials on 7 785 (-6.4 percent).

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) attributed the growth to sales incentives by auto companies as well as a strong contribution by the car rental sector. The marginal decline in interest rates in July 2017 also had a positive effect on sales.

According to leading vehicle financier Wesbank, in the second half of 2017 price increases were staved off as the rand firmed against foreign currencies, which allowed the motor industry to pass value back to consumers through very attractive marketing incentives when purchasing new vehicles.

Whilst the modest improvement was welcome, Naamsa said the figures should be seen in the context of industry sales 11 years ago when the market recorded an all-time high sales number of 714 314 units.

However, 2017 recorded the country's third highest export figure on record, with 329 053 SA-built vehicles shipped to other countries.

Naamsa anticipates further modest improvement in new-vehicle sales during 2018, predicting a 2 percent increase in car sales and 4 percent for light commercials.

Wesbank said there was a continued shift back from sales of used vehicles to new vehicles last year based on its data from vehicle finance applications. It said demand for new vehicles grew 3 percent in 2017 while demand for used vehicles declined 1.5 percent.

Toyota ended the year on a high with its perennial favourite, the Hilux, topping the bakkie and overall December sales figures ahead of the rival Ford Ranger. The VW Polo Vivo was the top-selling passenger car but the VW Polo slipped to fourth place in car sales with its replacement due to be launched later this month. The faclifted Polo Vivo will follow in February.


1 Toyota Hilux 3382
2 Ford Ranger 2681
3 VW Polo Vivo 1230
4 Toyota Corolla/Auris/Quest 1140
5 Toyota Quantum 1136
6 Renault Kwid 1120
7 Toyota Fortuner 1108
8 Nissan NP200 1040
9 VW Polo 1028
10 Toyota Etios 954
11 Isuzu KB 903
12 Ford Ecosport 892
13 Nissan NP300 869
14 Toyota Rav 791
15 Kia Picanto 656
16 Ford Everest 559
17 Ford Fiesta 522
18 Kia Rio 508
19 Hyundai Tucson 506
20 Hyundai Grand i10 503

* BMW and Mercedes-Benz do not report their monthly sales figures.