Motoring News

Get with it, dealers! Digital the way to deal in 2022

EVs and BMW soar in popularity in South Africa, reveals Car Industry Report

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Searches for electric vehicles (EVs) surged by 110% to a half-million through 2021 with BMW deceiving a mighty eight-million more Consumer Advert Views.

And more than 637-million online vehicle searches were conducted – just some of the trends to emerge in the latest AutoTrader Car Industry Report.

The January-December 2021 survey was named #SwitchedOn and CEO George Mieni explained. “A challenging 2020 saw the automotive market almost come to a to a halt. 2021 forced us to seek products and services to meet the change car shoppers were experiencing so 2022 will be a year to ‘switch on’ new automotive thinking and operating.”


Mieni believes last year saw not only new thinking – there was also more market activity. “A record 637-million searches scoured AutoTrader – growth of 28% year-on-year. An average of 76-million pages were opened each month.

Potential buyers researched more brands than ever, mainly for BMW, VW, Mercedes, Toyota and Audi but with BMW again the most visited – 43.9-million views or eight-million more than the previous year.

Brands that received the highest search volumes through 2021

ANOTHER important change over 2020 can be seen when one examines the most viewed variants (AutoTrader was first to market with the introduction of precise variant searches back in May 2009).

The VW Golf GTI has, historically, been the most-viewed variant and was still the most-searched variant in 2021 with more than 3.2-million searches. However, in early 2021 for a short time, this changed to Toyota’s Hilux 2.8GD-6 (GTI second). The most-searched model (4.3% of searches), was also the Hilux (it 22.8-million searches).

Variants that received the highest search volumes across the calendar year 2021

YET ANOTHER important variation versus 2020 was the increased number of searches for EVs. In total, over 540,000 searches of EVs were conducted in 2021, indicating an increase of over 110% year-on-year. As more electric vehicles get introduced into the market, AutoTrader recorded searches for the Porsche Taycan increased by over 900% last year while I-Pace searches rose by 62%.

Electric cars that received the highest search volumes across the calendar year 2021

SPECIFIC BODY-TYPE searches rose substantially last year – by 27% to over 102 million. This is indicative of consumers being more inclined to search for a preferred body-type and it’s also influenced by more brands having released various shapes of the “same” model.

For example, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3 are both available as a hatchback or sedan while the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux come in both single, extended and double-cabs.


CONSUMER ADVERT VIEWS also rose considerably in 2021 – 30% more than 2020 to nearly 100-million.

Mienie again: “Consumer Advert Views continue to be a vital performance indicator for auto dealers – definite precursors to an actual enquiry – but the process must be fast. International studies have shown that car-sellers have about 15 seconds to grab the attention of a potential buyer.”

Understanding and capitalising on that was vital to a deal.

MEINIE, YET AGAIN (and finally): “Dealers’ transition info digital businesses is vital. With all the learning and innovation in response to consumers’ new car-hunting behaviour and economic hurdles through 2021 this year will be the time to switch on all engines, get back to normalcy, and see real resurgence in the SA automotive industry.”

The report can be downloaded free.

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