Johannesburg: How do you get a competent but underrated Suzuki hatchback to sell in the thousands? You simply add a Toyota badge, as the recent sales success of the Starlet has shown us.
Although Naamsa no longer releases individual vehicle sales figures to the media, Toyota has issued a statement listing its top-selling vehicles, and the Starlet, once again, emerged as the firm’s best-selling passenger car.
With 1 452 sales in October, the Toyota Starlet was also the country’s third most popular car, according to Wesbank, breathing down the neck of its arch-rival, the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, which found 1 571 new homes last month. Toyota sold 1 342 Starlets in September and 1 203 in August.
The Toyota Starlet, which starts at R220 800, is built by Maruti Suzuki in India and is almost identical to the Baleno, which is priced from R221 900.
The Starlet was not Toyota’s best-selling vehicle overall in October. However, with the Hilux and Hiace commercial vehicles attracting sales of 2 470 and 1 556 units respectively.
In fourth place overall, with an impressive 1 270 sales, was the Toyota Urban Cruiser compact SUV, which is another Suzuki-based product. It was followed by the Corolla Quest (802 units) and Fortuner (660). The Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-Up also enjoyed a consistently strong sales month, with 216 units sold.
Toyota is launching its locally built Corolla Cross in November and it will be interesting to see how it fares on the sales charts. With prices starting at R349 900, it wouldn’t surprise us if the newcomer emerged as Toyota’s top-selling SUV.
South African vehicle sales continue to be hampered by supply chain problems, which slowed the country’s year-on-year growth to 6.1% in October, with overall sales declining by 4.9% versus September. LCVs and bakkies saw a surge in demand, however, rising 15.9% year-on-year, while passenger car sales grew by 3.1%.
“Local retail conditions are far from ideal,” said Toyota SA’s sales and marketing VP Leon Theron. “The depressed growth figures, increased household debt and rising living costs, including fuel prices, are dragging on the overall sales growth.
“We are, however, continuously encouraged by the work ethic of our dealers who have shown great courage in these challenging times.”