Pre-owned vehicles now as much about choice as price
Donovan Enslin, used vehicle manager for the Kelston Motor Group, says both price and choice are currently driving the pre-owned market. Photo: Full Stop Communications

As much as price is a significant driver of the pre-owned car market, South African motorists are now also enjoying the wide variety of quality vehicles offered.

Gone were the days when pre-loved vehicle lots might have had a few fixer-uppers displayed in the back, noted Donovan Enslin, used vehicle manager for the Kelston Motor Group.

“I don’t think there is a manufacturer delivering a poor vehicle at the moment,” he said.

“You can now get a great vehicle for R150 000. Even at the lower end you can be assured of a good vehicle and the market is very diverse.

“You are never limited in your choice.”

The country’s pre-owned sector has taken off amid higher fuel prices and a challenging economic environment.

Data from used-car platform AutoTrader shows that almost 100 000 more vehicles were listed for sale between January and June 2023 compared to the same period in 2020.

In the same timeframe 18 new vehicle brands entered the market, among them Chinese stables like Chery.

On average Kelston has more than 300 used vehicles available at any time in the Eastern Cape, meaning that customers can select their preferred vehicle brand while having an excellent chance of getting it in their favourite colour.

Enslin, who is based in Gqeberha from where he oversees the pre-owned aspect of five of the Group’s branches, said in recent months there had been a rise in demand for compact SUVs and crossovers that were better equipped to negotiate South Africa’s notorious potholes.

“The moment you add ride-height to a vehicle you get a more comfortable drive. It’s preferable to having a hatchback which can struggle on our roads.”

For this reason the Chery Tiggo had become extremely popular, he said.

However, pre-owned Toyota Fortuners and Ford Rangers remained highly sought after – an insight that corresponds with AutoTrader figures for 2023, which indicate that the Japanese manufacturer takes up 15.3 per cent of the listings, followed by VW (12.98%) and Ford (10.60%).

“I deal in these vehicles and if it’s hard for me to choose from what’s available it’s also going to be tough for a buyer. That’s how much we’re spoilt for choice,” Enslin said.

“I think people would be selling themselves short not exploring the used market as it ticks all the boxes.”

He advised that buyers always explored this space when undertaking a price comparison as pre-owned was guaranteed to offer a lot of value.

This includes the fact that the trade-in deficit will not be as big as it will be in the case of a brand-new vehicle.

Pre-owned service plans were also now on par with those offered with new vehicles, Enslin added.

“Kelston works very hard to be a one-stop shop. We always sell our vehicles under warranty. That side of the business is very important to us.

“We understand that our customers want to go to a place they can trust.”

Due to the internet, customers have become a lot savvier when it comes to their cars. Because they are more in tune with their vehicles they generally know when something is amiss and therefore require dealerships to be on the same page.