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South African LCV market offers more diversity than ever

According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), new light commercial vehicle sales statistics for the first half of 2013 indicate healthy growth in the market, despite an austere economic outlook owing to a steadily depreciating Rand against foreign currencies and uncertainty over industrial action in the local business sector.

New LCV market prices have also gone up in recent months, in line with passenger vehicle pricing, which means that demand for more affordable small bakkies, panel vans and mini busses is also growing – leading to a healthy increase in the number of brands and derivatives that are now available in the compact workhorse segment. While Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Volkswagen continue to dominate the Naamsa sales charts on a monthly basis, there’s a clear indication that the AMH group, as well as brands like GWM, Tata and Mahindra, are also making waves in the LCV segment thanks to a growing portfolio of new models that offer similar space and carrying capacity as its chief rivals, but at prices that are more competitive than the segment leaders.

New models in the LCV segment, as manufacturers look to bolster their sales.

Chevrolet-Utility in the LCV category LCV market

At the end of June Toyota reported that it had sold nearly 20 000 light commercial vehicles in South Africa. Ford is also enjoying good business in the LCV segment thanks to the growing popularity of its Ranger series and the recent introduction of its new Transit vans. At October’s Johannesburg International Motor Show at Nasrec one can expect the introduction of several new models and derivatives in the LCV segment as manufacturers look to bolster their sales.

The LCV segment continues to follow trends prevalent in the passenger car segment in the sense that engines are being downsized and gearbox and drivetrain technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated. A key question that remains is whether one should stick to tried and tested brands or explore some of the latest offerings to come to South Africa’s shores. While there are risks involved with opting for ridiculously cheap models that offer no form of warranty of aftersales service, Naamsa sales statistics indicate that businesses as well as private commuters aren’t shy to at least try some of the cheaper alternatives in an effort to reduce some of their growing mobility costs.

list LCV market

Retail sales statistics for SA’s 20 top-selling pickups and panel vans from January – August 2013 compared to the same period in 2012:

The sales figures above are for pick-ups and vans sold by companies which report detailed retail sales figures to NAAMSA.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa