SA Market’s Biggest Winners & Losers of 2019

VW T Cross Wvl

Which car brands did what in terms of new-vehicle sales in 2019... not in terms of total numbers, but market-share growth or loss? We dug a bit deeper to see how the manufacturers and importers on the South African market performed in 2019. This is what we found...

*figures calculated off NAAMSA sales data

By calculating the market share of each car brand in 2019 and comparing the firms' figures with those from 2018, we can get some sort of an idea as to how each manufacturer (or importer) is faring in the South African market. For our calculations, we only considered passenger vehicles (no bakkies) because not every manufacturer sells a bakkie and they are considered commercial vehicles by law. We will prepare a separate article for the "bakkie brands" later.

But first, a few clarifications before we get started. In 2018, BMW reported its numbers as an aggregate (it included Mini sales in its total). In 2019, it separated the two brands, which made it easier to calculate BMW’s market share for the year. We had to take an average of the Mini sales from 2019 and apply them to 2018’s figures to get a better understanding of BMW’s actual figures.

Mercedes-Benz includes Smart in its sales, but the numbers for the Swiss brand are negligible and would not make a difference to the overall number.

So, without further ado…

The big winners


2018 market share: 0.18%

2019 market share: 2.1%

Ever since the Chinese SUV brand officially took over GWM's local operations (previously it was imported through a local business), it has begun to make real inroads in the South African market. It has begun to challenge the esteemed and long-standing brands with its H2 and H6 and, with the introduction of the H9, made its first appearance in the final round of the Consumer Awards - powered by WesBank (in the Adventure SUVs category).


2018 market share: 3.2%

2019 market share: 4.2%

The rise of Suzuki in the South African market shows no sign of slowing down; the brand continues to grow year-upon-year. In 2019, it introduced a facelifted Vitara while the Jimny was launched at the very end of 2018. Most of its sales come from the Swift (a #CarsAwards budget-car category winner), while the Ertiga and Ignis continue to do well locally.


2018 market share: 6.9%

2019 market share: 7.6%

The French brand has shifted its marketing focus from its upmarket models and prioritised the budget end of the market, where it offers a bit more brand cache and image value than, say, Datsun. The Kwid has turned big numbers for Renault locally, but the ageing Clio is still able to hold its own along with the Sandero. Sales of the new Duster appear to yield good volumes for the brand too.


2018 market share: 0.6%

2019 market share: 1%

Mahindra calls South Africa its second home, but the Indian manufacturer's sales have been predominantly in the LCV segment with the Scorpio Pik-up and the Bolero. In 2019, it introduced a compact family car in the form of the XUV300, which is selling fairly well. The budget-oriented KUV100 turns the most units on a monthly basis, which is helping Mahindra to gain a bigger foothold in the passenger-car market.


2018 market share: 20.3%

2019 market share: 21%

It’s a small percentage gain for the reigning #CarsAwards Brand of the Year, but further underlines the fact that the Wolfsburg-based firm is South Africa's favourite passenger-car brand. It increased its gap over Toyota at the top. The introduction of the T-Cross in 2019 certainly helped the brand gain access to the compact family-car segment, where previously it had zero presence.

The little winners


2018 market share: 2.45%

2019 market share: 2.5%


2018 market share: 0.3%

2019 market share: 0.4%


2018 market share: 0.4%

2019 market share: 0.6%


2018 market share: 0.3%

2019 market share: 0.4%


2018 market share: 0.35%

2019 market share: 0.4%


2018 market share: 0.28%

2019 market share: 0.29%


2018 market share: 0.22%

2019 market share: 0.25%

The big losers


2018 market share: 18.9%

2019 market share: 17.7%

Don’t feel too sorry for Toyota, the Hilux is still SA’s best-selling vehicle by some margin. It’s hard to pick a fault in Toyota’s passenger-car numbers. Apart from the Corolla Hatchback, most models do particularly well with Fortuner, Corolla and RAV4 registering close or more than 1 000 units a month. The recently-arrived updated C-HR might help Toyota's numbers in the compact SUV segment and remember, the new Corolla and Corolla Quest have just hit showrooms!


2018 market share: 4.4%

2019 market share: 3.6%

Without the locally-built 3 Series to flood the market, BMW hasn’t been able to cover the shortfall with the X3. The result is a slight decline in sales. BMW had a lot of expensive products come to the market in 2019 in the form of the 8 Series and the Z4, which sell in small numbers but provide healthy profit margins. The new 1 Series was launched at the tail end of 2019 and an expanded 3 Series line-up (including a 318i) should bolster BMW’s numbers for 2020.


2018 market share: 4.1%

2019 market share: 3.6%

Nissan South Africa has been circumspect with introducing new products and with its ageing SUV line-up (Qashqai and X-Trail were facelifted in 2017), the Japanese firm has lost its foothold in the family-car segment. The new Micra is outsold by the same-platform Clio and the Almera does not offer much other than lots of legroom in the ‘Uber’ segment. Hopefully, new Nissan models will come to the market in 2020... or it may become an LCV business only.


2018 market share: 2%

2019 market share: 1.55%

Honda hasn’t brought anything new to the market in a while and has stood by its local product portfolio, which is, unfortunately, looking a bit long in the tooth. It doesn’t look like things are going to get any better for the brand as the recently released Jazz is unlikely to come to SA. The BR-V has been lightly facelifted but the line-up lacks the sparkle and excitement that something like the all-electric Honda-e could bring to the local market.

The little losers


2018 market share: 8.8%

2019 market share: 8.5%


2018 market share: 7.3%

2019 market share: 7.1%


2018 market share: 4.4%

2019 market share: 4.1%


2018 market share: 4.35%

2019 market share: 4%


2018 market share: 3.85%

2019 market share: 3.45%


2018 market share: 1.99%

2019 market share: 1.97%

Jaguar Land Rover

2018 market share: 1.4%

2019 market share: 1.15%


2018 market share: 0.85%

2019 market share: 0.7%


2018 market share: 0.7%

2019 market share: 0.65%

The passenger-car rankings

1. Volkswagen - 21%

2. Toyota - 17.7%

3. Hyundai - 8.5%

4. Renault - 7.6%

5. Ford -  7.1%

6. Suzuki - 4.2%

7. Mercedes-Benz - 4.1%

8. Kia - 4%

9. Nissan - 3.6%

10. BMW - 3.6% 

11. Mazda - 3.5%

12. Audi - 2.5%

13. GWM/Haval - 2.1%

14. Datsun - 1.97%

15. Honda - 1.55%

16. Jaguar Land Rover - 1.15% 

17. Mahindra - 1%

18. Opel - 0.7%

19. Volvo - 0.65%

20. Fiat/Chrysler - 0.6% 

21. Porsche - 0.4%

22. Mitsubishi - 0.4%

23. Peugeot/Citroen - 0.4%

24. Subaru - 0.29%

25. Lexus - 0.25%