Johannesburg - It wasn’t too long ago that Suzuki Auto South Africa was counted among the country’s smaller importers. But in recent times, the Japanese carmaker - which sources most of its products from the Maruti division in India - has been gunning for the big players.
But few would have expected the brand to sell 3134 new vehicles in September 2021, which not only smashed all previous records, but also put it in the top three behind Volkswagen and Toyota, with a 7.2% share of the overall market and 10.3% slice of the passenger car segment. In the process it edged ahead of Hyundai, Renault, Nissan, Kia and Ford, each of which sold between 2000 and 3000 units last month.
To put these figures into perspective, consider that Suzuki achieved an all-time sales record of 1577 units in July 2019, meaning that the company has effectively doubled up in little over two years.
But which models were driving this sales performance?
According to Suzuki, the company’s top-selling model in September was the Swift, which found 935 new homes. The compact hatch range was followed by the S-Presso budget hatch (504 sales), Vitara Brezza (455) and Ertiga (387).
Aiding its cause has been a recent increase in sales to the rental industry and government, which accounted for just over a third of Suzuki’s total.
The secret to Suzuki’s success, no doubt, is that its model mix is among the most affordable in the country, and the company has also built a reputation for selling relatively solid and dependable cars. However, there are a few safety concerns that linger, with the Indian market S-Presso having received a zero-star Global NCAP rating in 2020, albeit with fewer safety features than the SA model, and the more popular Swift also disappointed the crash testing authority with its two-star rating in India.
Clearly, affordable motoring comes at a price, but what can’t be denied is that South Africa has a huge hunger for budget cars. We can only hope that Maruti Suzuki is able to improve on its safety ratings without too big an impact on affordability.
The Suzuki S-Presso is currently South Africa’s cheapest car, starting at R149 900, and the Swift is also significantly more affordable than its B-segment competitors, with its starting price of R180 900.