The automotive landscape changed quite dramatically in 2020 with the double-whammy of the Covid pandemic and the economic destruction resulting from the harsh lockdowns – and the traditional barometer of economic status, commercial vehicle sales, plummeted.
However, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) registered its highest ever LCV market share in 2020 (41,9% – courtesy of the marque’s segment stalwarts, Hilux and Hiace). In December alone, Toyota recorded a market share of 45,7% in the Light Commercial Vehicle segment – which translates to 4 939 out of the 10 161 vehicles sold by the company last month. As many as 3 233 Hilux and 1 221 Hiace models found new homes in December.
With the local automotive industry posting its lowest total in 18 years, the cumulative total of vehicles sold in 2020 was 380 449 – some 156 163 (29,1%) units below the 536 612 aggregate registered in 2019. This massive drop in sales can be directly attributed to a host of COVID-19-related restrictions implemented last year. The local motoring industry was particularly badly hit in the months of April and May when the country was under hard lockdown.
Commenting on 2020 aggregate sales, the National Association of Automobile Manufactures of South Africa (NAAMSA) says: “Vehicle sales are linked to the strength of the economy and the pandemic not only deepened an existing economic recession, but its severe impact resulted in the domestic new-vehicle market in 2020 dropping back to the levels of two decades ago.”
Despite Toyota’s resilience from a retail perspective, it is worth noting the last time the brand sold less than 100 000 units in a year was in 2009 with 90 711 units. Out of the 90 129 vehicles sold by Toyota last year, 40 970 were passenger models (16,6%), 46 526 LCV (41,9%), 1 635 (24,3%) were Medium Commercial Vehicles (MCV) while a further 998 (6,2%) were Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCV).
“It was a bittersweet year of retail for Toyota. Although we are pleased to have ended the year with an aggregate market share of 23,7% – coupled with an extraordinary December result which saw us record a monumental 27,1% share of the retail pie – we also lost a lot of sales to the pandemic.
“That said, in the second half of the year, the local automotive industry has shown tremendous resilience – almost matching pre-COVID-19 sales in some instances… and that was most encouraging. And here, we truly do owe our dealer network a huge debt of gratitude; to every single hard-working man and woman who make dealership sales, fleet sales and service departments such a great place to work, buy or service a car – thank you!
“Thank you for your tireless effort and dedication to your jobs. And thank you for your partnership,” says Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TSAM, Leon Theron.
The LCV segment might be the mainstay of Toyota sales, but the figures for passenger sales are not to be sniffed at. The newly launched Starlet was Toyota’s leading passenger vehicle in December with 1 126 units (outgoing Etios garnered a further useful 288 sales), followed by the Quest with 1 004, Fortuner with 942 and Avanza with 400 among the top sellers.
The role played by the Parts Supply business, which distributed a total of 14,32-million parts pieces to the domestic market and 3,3-million pieces to the export market, can also not be underestimated. It also reinforces the fact customers trust genuine parts to get the job done timeously, efficiently and, in the long run, economically. In December, more than 1,28-million parts pieces were delivered to local dealers while a further 315 943 were shipped to foreign markets.
According to Theron, 2021 will likewise be a challenging year for the local automotive sector:
“The coronavirus will still be a huge factor in the economy this year, and this will have a notable impact on the retail of motor vehicles in the course of the year. We hope that our Toyota, Hino and Lexus dealers and all the Toyota staff at various touch points will be up to the task. To our customers, who are the backbone of our business, we will continue striving to be your automotive brand of choice in these challenging times.”