The strong will get stronger. For all the wave of new brands and models which have brightened up the local market in the past two decades, the old favourites continue to be absolutely dominant. And, in an economy which will remain tough for a while yet, consumers will be conservative and loyal in their choices with an eye on resale value. Volkswagen and Toyota will carry on ruling the passenger market while Toyota and Ford (with Isuzu a significant third) will continue to own the bakkie space.
Fewer models. Choice is great but we have too much of it right now in SA to make economic sense. In NAAMSA’s figures, there are 41 passenger models selling less than ten vehicles per month. That might be OK if it’s a Ferrari, a Bentley or a Maserati but not for the rest. Something’s got to give during 2019.
Monochrome rules. White cars hold their value better because they are a safe choice which anyone can buy. Fewer people are taking risks at the moment which means there will be even more conservative car paint jobs – white, grey, red – and a sad lack of individualism on the roads.
Electricity remains current. In our market, we’re still possibly a decade or more away from critical mass, and decent infrastructure, to support fully electric vehicles but more and more hybrids will hit the local showrooms. Nissan, Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes should have new models available here during 2019.
Automatic upgrades. Some big manufacturers globally (Porsche among them) are starting to move towards buying on a plan where you automatically upgrade your car after a year or two – just like a cellphone. It probably won’t happen here for a while but it seems inevitable.
Connectivity. Connected car tech is moving beyond an internet connection into computer vision and augmented reality on the dashboard. But what matters most is ease of use and convenient integration with smartphones. Some dashboards are going overboard and are becoming intimidating for everyday users. The winners will be the models which deliver excellence and simplicity.