Toyota continues to shine in a depressed market

South Africa's auto sales dropped 15,9% in March from a year earlier, industry data showed, marking the eighth consecutive monthly fall. Prolonged unfavourable trading conditions arising from escalating fuel costs, elevated interest rates as well as negative economic and political sentiment has taken a heavy toll on new vehicle sales.

According to Toyota South Africa’s Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Leon Theron, Toyota is weathering the storm better than most: “Without sugar-coating it, the market is extremely depressed and it’s only thanks to the immense team effort from our dealer network with the full support from Toyota’s sales, marketing and aftersales staff as well as our production facility that we can consistently perform at this level. I’m extremely encouraged that we were able to pull off 11,109 sales in March for a leading market share of 25,1%. Admittedly it is down on the record-breaking 13,406 units we shifted last March, but it’s nevertheless still a great performance given that there were fewer trading days this year due to the Easter public holidays falling earlier. Even more impressive is that we now lead in every market category except two – Extra Heavy and Bus. It also speaks volumes about brand loyalty, especially when times are tough. So, to every one of our loyal customers, I say a big ‘thank you’ – we could not have done it without you.”

Corolla Cross racked up an impressive 2,041 sales to make it SA’s bestselling passenger car once again. Despite supply constraints, Starlet proved a worthy support act, coming in at sixth position with 1,258 registrations, while the eighth-placed Fortuner put in a very good showing with 926 units shifted. Other Toyotas making the passenger sales’ merit list were the Vitz (595) and Urban Cruiser (456). In the Premium space it was the SUV trio from Lexus that took top honours – NX on 25, RX retailing 21 units and the flagship LX garnering 17 sales.

As anticipated, the Hilux was not only the best-selling LCV, but also SA’s most popular vehicle with 3,104 rolling out of Toyota dealerships last month. The Land Cruiser 79 Pick-up fresh from its recent facelift and addition of the new 2,8-litre auto variants was on a retail roll with 454 units finding new owners in March.

Despite coming down in rental volume by some 433 units from February, Toyota nevertheless managed an even higher percentage share, taking just over 33% of the car hire market. Toyota accounted for 27,3% of the passenger rental market with 565 units sold, while occupying 52,3% (311 units) of the LCV rental sales.

In the commercial space Toyota took gold in the MCV and HCV categories with leading sales of 264 and 158 units respectively. Leading the MCV charge was the Hino 300 Series which achieved 189 sales – the other retail numbers were made up by the Coaster (52) and Quantum (23). The Hino 500 Series on 158 takes credit for all the HCV units sold. 

The parts’ report for March saw just over 1,3 million pieces distributed locally, with 255,462 pieces exported to foreign markets.