Besides the Isuzu D-Max, the Navara also displaced the Ford Ranger to become the second best selling bakkie and overall vehicle for the month.

The Nissan Navara has provided the biggest new vehicle sales shock of recent months by ranking behind the Toyota Hilux as the country’s second best-selling vehicle and bakkie for March.

Navara shines as NP200 says goodbye

In a month where vehicle sales continued to decline for an eighth consecutive time, the Navara’s figures of 2 277 units sold saw it place, unsurprisingly, behind the Hilux’s 3 104, but well ahead of the Isuzu D-Max, whose 2 095 placed it third overall in one of its best showings in recent memory.

Taking fourth place, the Toyota Corolla Cross slipped a single position from February as the only other vehicle to shift more than 2 000 units with a total of 2 041.

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Dropping from its usual second slot behind the Hilux, the Ford Ranger finished fifth on 1 954, while the Volkswagen Polo Vivo fell from fourth place in February, to sixth in March with sales of 1 933.

In seventh, eighth and ninth places, the Suzuki Swift continued to rank above the Hyundai Grand i10 and Toyota Starlet as best-selling non-South African made vehicle with sales of 1 433, with the latter pair swapping positions from February with respective sales of 1 359 and 1 258 in March.

For the final time in its storied 16-year history, the Nissan NP200, whose production run at the marque’s Rosslyn Plant outside Pretoria ended last month, completed the top 10 with sales of 1 113 units.

No good news

Citing the public holidays associated with the Easter long weekend plus poorer demand to the slowing sales, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) recorded its biggest monthly drop of the year so far in March with a downturn of 11.7% from last year’s 50 114 units to this year’s 44 237.

In addition, all of the various segments ended in the red with passenger vehicle numbers shedding 15.9% to end on 26 577 versus 31 601, and light commercials 4.3% for a total of 14 870 compared to 15 542 the same time 12 months ago.

Taking the second biggest hit, medium-duty commercial vehicles registered a loss of 15.8% from 862 to 726, while heavy-duty trucks and buses recorded the smallest at 2.1% from 2 109 to 2 064.

After bouncing back from an initial loss in January, new vehicle exports reversed its almost 30% gain in February by being hardest hit in March with a loss of 27.1% from last year’s 33 136 to 24 161.

“For the first quarter 2024, aggregate new vehicle sales were now 5.3% below the corresponding quarter in 2023,” Naamsa said in a statement.

“The effect of the South African Reserve Bank’s aggressive monetary policy stance by hiking interest rates in an attempt to contain inflation took some time to filter through to new vehicle sales, which continue to add to the prevailing negative sentiment.

“Due to ongoing cost pressures, including escalating fuel costs, along with interest rates, affordability remains a decisive factor in purchasing decisions as consumers increasingly turn to more budget-friendly vehicles.”

It further added, “South Africa’s economic growth outlook for 2024 remains mooted, but at a projected 1.2% by the Reserve Bank it would still be stronger than 2023.

“Only once the interest cutting cycle commences, likely during the second half of the year, along with the easing of inflation, better economic prospects are expected for the new vehicle market”.

Top 10 changes

Out of the country’s top 10 best performing brands’ an unchanged top three prevailed with Toyota’s 11 109 seeing it above Volkswagen and Suzuki, whose respective figures amounted to 5 219 and 4 335.

Attributed to the Navara’s surge in demand, Nissan retained its fourth place from February with sales of 3 995, with Isuzu jumping two places from seventh in February to fifth in March with sales of 2 587.

Keeping station in sixth was Hyundai on 2 436, while Ford slipped to seventh on 2 409.

Until now known as Haval, rebranded Great Wall Motors (GWM) South Africa stayed steady in eighth position with 1 564, but only marginally ahead of arch rivals Chery, whose 1 531 saw it retain ninth place.

An unchanged bottom end of the top-10 concluded with Renault on 1 301 units sold.

March top 50 best-selling cars

  1. Toyota Hilux – 3 104
  2. Nissan Navara – 2 277
  3. Isuzu D-Max – 2 095
  4. Toyota Corolla Cross – 2 041
  5. Ford Ranger – 1 954
  6. Volkswagen Polo Vivo – 1 933
  7. Suzuki Swift – 1 433
  8. Hyundai Grand i10 – 1 359
  9. Toyota Starlet – 1 258
  10. Nissan NP200 – 1 113
  11. Chery Tiggo 4 Pro – 975
  12. Volkswagen Polo – 959
  13. Toyota Fortuner – 926
  14. Mahindra Pik Up – 744
  15. Toyota HiAce – 711
  16. Toyota Vitz – 595
  17. GWM P Series – 591
  18. Suzuki Baleno – 544
  19. Kia Sonet – 526
  20. Haval Jolion – 519
  21. Nissan Magnite – 485
  22. Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series – 484
  23. Volkswagen T-Cross – 466
  24. Toyota Urban Cruiser – 458
  25. Suzuki Ertiga – 430
  26. Volkswagen Amarok – 421
  27. Renault Triber – 413
  28. Suzuki Fronx – 404
  29. Chery Tiggo 7 Pro – 402
  30. Renault Kiger – 385
  31. Hyundai i20 – 370
  32. Toyota Rumion – 358
  33. Volkswagen Polo Sedan – 345
  34. Haval H6 – 335
  35. Ford Everest – 298
  36. Suzuki Jimny – 273
  37. Suzuki Grand Vitara – 271
  38. Suzuki S-Presso – 261
  39. Renault Clio – 230
  40. BMW X3 – 211
  41. Suzuki Eeco – 201
  42. Isuzu MU-X – 185
  43. Toyota Corolla Quest – 185
  44. Hyundai H100 – 181
  45. Mahindra XUV 700 – 181
  46. Kia K-series – 180
  47. Renault Kwid – 168
  48. BMW 3 Series – 165
  49. Hyundai Venue – 162
  50. Suzuki DZire – 159

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