Before the pandemic (and lockdown) hit South Africa, our government had plans to supercharge the auto industry as part of our long-term development. Because Africa is the world’s largest untapped market for new cars, the move was meant to increase our manufacturing output and exports over time.

With almost 80% of the global economy in some form of lockdown between March and July 2020, many industries were left in a tailspin. Locally, the auto industry was one of the hardest hit – car manufacturing accounts for 7% of South Africa’s GPD and 30% of our manufacturing output, and our lockdown massively impacted the government’s development plan.

But lockdown didn’t just change the volume at which cars are manufactured and exported. It also changed South Africa’s buying habits and taste.

AutoTrader analysed 401 million searches on their platform over the past 12 months, and the results show an interesting snapshot of South Africans during lockdown – notably, how our financial constraints, even in the middle of lockdown, couldn’t stop us from dreaming about better days.

South Africa’s favourite cars in 2019

  1. Toyota Hilux


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ROAM (@roam_overlanding) on

2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by dgn_c63 | dogan1 (@dogan_c63z) on

3. BMW 3 Series


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BMW South Africa (@bmwsouthafrica) on

4. Volkswagen Golf

5. Ford Ranger

6. Volkswagen Polo

7. BMW 1 Series

8. Toyota Fortuna

9. BMW X5

10. Audi A3

South Africa’s favourite cars during lockdown

While car sales plummeted, South Africans were still online and searching for cars. During lockdown, the Volkswagen Golf shot from fourth place to first, while a surprising new entry appeared on the list.

    1. Volkswagen Golf


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Volkswagen South Africa (@volkswagensouthafrica) on

2. Toyota Hilux

3. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

4. BMW 3 Series

5. Ford Ranger

6. Volkswagen Polo

7. BMW 1 Series

8. BMW X5

9. Ford Fortuna

10. Porsche 911

According to Mienie, the Volkswagen Golf skyrocketing “could have something to do with the affordability of the Golf. According to the 2020 AutoTrader Car Industry Report, the average selling price of the Golf over the past year was R288,049 while the average selling price of the Hilux was R327,807. The dominance of the Golf during lockdown could indicate that motorists were under financial pressure and wanted to minimise their spending on a car.”

He attributes the Porsche 911’s appearance on the list as a form of aspirational dreaming for those who were looking forward to better days – “or maybe they just wanted to have some fun during what was a very difficult time for us all,” he says.

According to data collected by Naamsa, Porsche really was the best-selling luxury car during lockdown with 118 cars sold in May 2020.

While this is impressive compared to other luxury car sales (for comparison, 4 Lamborghinis were sold in the same period), it isn’t indicative of the average South African’s finances or spending habits. 2,749 Volkswagens were sold in in May 2020 – a brand much more representative of what South Africans can actually afford to spend.

While the pandemic and lockdown have changed – and will continue to change – everything about how we live, work, and play, one thing that you can rely on  during tough times is your insurance. With Name Your Price™ from, you can get the cover you need at a price you can afford (even during a pandemic). Get a free quote online in under 3 minutes today!