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Sub-compact SUVs Rule


Sub-compact segment - That particular segment has seen some good growth over the past few years, mainly because the economy has not been growing.


By Thami Masemola on 20 May 2021
The South African total vehicle market was about 380 400 units in 2020, a bad year that saw around a 30% market decline across the board. In fact, globally sales were down about the same percentage as well. However, we did see a minimal decline in a certain segment, which is the sub-compact or entry-level SUV one.
That particular segment has seen some good growth over the past few years, mainly because the economy has not been growing and buyers are buying down from bigger, more expensive premium SUVs into smaller ones. If we take a step back from that we can say for example, the large family sedan segment has declined to almost non-existent. Just over a decade ago this was a robust one, represented by the likes of Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and others. All these cars have disappeared off our new vehicle market, thanks to the country’s growing appetite for SUVs.
In the sub-compact segment the same has happened. Where cars such as the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Jetta used to rule the roost, they have been overtaken now. The Corolla does not reach monthly sales of 1 000 units anymore, the Mazda3 hardly moves 50 and the Jetta has been totally discontinued. Instead, buyers are flocking to buy cars like the Volkswagen T-Cross, Hyundai Venue, Haval H2 and more recently, Toyota Urban Cruiser.
Last year the T-Cross for example, sold 5 693 units or an average of about 475 a month. Compare this to the bigger Tiguan (which also offers a 7-seater option) with 4 280 (about 357 monthly) and you can see where the sales are. Remember also that the market was down 30% odd. Korean manufacturer Hyundai shifted 4 482 Venue at a monthly average of 374, while its bigger Tucson sibling found 2 819 (235). Chinese brand Haval averaged about 372 units of the H2.
Several new sub-compact SUVs are either entering the South African market this year, or already have. This will increase competition and hopefully keep prices reasonable. They include the new Peugeot 2008, Toyota Urban Cruiser, Haval Jolion, Kia Sonet and Renault Kiger.

Customers are flocking into this segment because SUVs are popular. However, the bigger ones are unattainable to the majority of potential buyers. Therefore these more compact models offer a similar SUV experience of riding high off the tarmac, for less. Yes, you do compromise on storage space, but if that is not a main priority then these are the cars to look at.

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