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New car sales in South Africa reached record lows during 2020, according to the latest NAAMSA data. A market decline of 29.1 percent resulted in a total of 156 163 fewer units sold compared to the previous year – the lowest figure to be recorded in 18 years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused an economic recession, is widely regarded as the main contributor to the decline in sales as vehicle sales are closely linked to the strength of the economy.

Despite these challenges, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s (FMCSA) vehicle sales in the passenger car and light commercial vehicle sector held firm – the Ford Ranger remained one of the top three overall best-selling vehicles for the year, and consistently top-two in the bakkie market. In addition, the Ranger was recognised as the best-selling bakkie in the used car segment as per the 2020 AutoTrader Car Industry report, which covers the period July 2019 to June 2020.

Buyers opting for a used vehicle purchase can rely on Ford Approved – Ford’s fully accredited used car sales division. “With Ford Approved, customers benefit from the peace of mind that the pre-owned vehicle experience is fully backed by Ford Motor Company,” says Eben Swart, Ford Approved manager at FMCSA. “Although the primary focus is on Ford models, pre-owned vehicles from a variety of other brands are also sold through this channel.”

Ford Approved vehicles are a maximum of five years old with a 120 000km mileage limit. Each vehicle undergoes a stringent and comprehensive 160-point check, including mileage and service history verification. They are sold with 12 months free roadside assistance and the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty, and service plan or maintenance contract, where applicable – thereby giving the owner confidence in the quality of vehicles sold. The customer can also purchase extensions to the warranty, service plan or maintenance plan.

“This year will be pivotal for the long-term potential of the South African automotive industry,” says George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO. “After a particularly challenging 2020, dealers will be hungry for business and, as such, new car buyers can expect to land some good deals in 2021,” he predicts.

“This won’t necessarily apply to the used market. Because of the growing demand for used cars, good quality stock is in high demand and therefore prices are unlikely to drop. Having said that, buyers should still be spoilt for choice – with inventory levels in all price brackets remaining fairly high,” Mienie adds. “Consumers should always do their research before signing on the dotted line.”

“This advice extends to finance too. Shop around for the best-possible financing agreement and enlist the help of your dealer, who can usually get a better deal for you than your private banker. Always ask to see the various deals – so you can see exactly what’s on the table. Don’t forget to push for a better interest rate and ensure that you understand all the administrative fees.”

Furthermore, Mienie advises consumers to pay off the car at the same rate at which the car depreciates to avoid long-term debt. “This will help ensure that the value owed on the car is not more than it’s worth. Get periodic valuations on your vehicle for both trade and retail, and compare these values to the amount owed on your finance.”

An extensive range of new models are available in the Ford line-up, ranging from the locally assembled Built Ford Tough Ranger and adventurous Everest seven-seater sport utility vehicle (SUV), and the versatile Tourneo and Transit vans. The passenger car range includes the legendary Mustang, top-selling EcoSport compact SUV, award-winning Fiesta, as well as the compact Figo and the trendy Figo Freestyle.