BMW is traditionally the most sought-after brand in South Africa. South Africans love BMWs. The legendary BMW E30 325, popularly known locally as ‘Gusheshe’, is a prime example of this strong relationship. He is extremely popular in the spinning and burnout community. Spinning is a popular street sport in cities across South Africa where competitors drive cars in circles and perform stunts, sometimes at risky speeds.
BMW’s strong brand in South Africa also dominates electric vehicle sales in a small but growing market. The BMW i3 is the best-selling electric car of all time in South Africa, and the BMW i8 is the best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle of all time in South Africa. BMW South Africa has been very good at promoting electric vehicles in South Africa. Since 2015, when BMW introduced the first generation BMW i3 60Ah, it has constantly updated the i3 offering and added new models of the i3, 90Ah and 120Ah versions. BMW South Africa has also introduced plug-in hybrids of several models, including the BMW X5 xDrive45e which comes with a 24 kWh battery, offering an all-electric range of around 80 km.
BMW South Africa also introduced the Mini Cooper SE. The Mini brand has always been a popular brand in South Africa and it is hoped that this new all-electric version will take its place in the hearts of die-hard Mini fans in South Africa. The Mini Cooper is currently the cheapest electric vehicle you can buy in South Africa. It starts at R642,000 ($42,000). BMW has continued to offer all the latest electric models as they become available in the international market. BMW South Africa now offers the all new BMW i4, the iX, the iX3, and of course the new electric flagship 7 series, the i7. The new iX1 is also on the way.
Autotrader Mid-Year Automotive Industry Report, January 2022 – June 2022 just released and shows that for the first 6 months of 2022, Volkswagen has risen from 3rd place a year ago to the top of the list of most searched brands in South Africa. AutoTrader’s report states that “Volkswagen generated 15.6% of all car brand searches, compared to 11.9% in the first half of 2021. BMW had the 2nd highest number of searches (14.98%) , up from 12.7% in 2021. And Toyota, which was the 4th most searched brand, is now 3rd, ahead of Mercedes-Benz which was 2nd in 2021 and is now 4th Toyota generated 13.8% of all searches of car brands.
The 5 most wanted variants were the VW Golf GTI, Polo GTI, Golf R, Polo 1.0 TSI and Mercedes-AMG C-Class C63. All ICE vehicles! VW does not yet offer electric cars in South Africa, which is a real shame. The identity. 4 & 5 would likely attract serious attention in this small but growing market. Interest in electric vehicles is growing in South Africa. AutoTrader’s report says there has been a 27% year-over-year increase in the number of car buyers using the fuel filter. This could be due to soaring gasoline and diesel prices which is causing people to pay more attention to vehicle engine capacity and the type of fuel that will power their next vehicle. The report says that in the past, fuel type was a secondary search filter, mostly used when car buyers were considering pickup trucks. An important point to note is that in 2022, searches for hybrid and electric fuel type increased by 129% and 100% respectively.
VW has a small fleet of ID.3s in South Africa for some test, pilot and media use, as well as use as courtesy vehicles at some VW dealerships. VW will also add a few ID.4s to this fleet. The transition to electric mobility around the world is happening much faster than previously thought, with sales records constantly being broken in several markets in Europe, Asia and North America.
South Africa desperately needs to catch up. We need as many electric vehicle models as possible in this market. Established players such as VW, which already have an existing footprint, could help by introducing its existing range of electric vehicles as soon as possible. South Africans have always loved VW. When I was at university, the dream of many students was to go to university, find a job and buy a VW Golf GTI. I hope that in the near future this dream could be: go to university, find a job and buy a VW ID.3/2/1 GTX!
The Golf GTI is still on the most wanted list. Many car buyers are loyal to specific brands. Having multiple EV model options among their preferred brand could impact EV sales growth.
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