In a market held back by global vehicle shortages and lockdown restrictions, one vehicle brand and its dealer network are swimming against the tide.
“We are ecstatic about the national sales results,” says Henno Havenga, manager for auto dealer sales at Suzuki Auto. “Virtually every vehicle we were able to deliver to a dealer found a new owner and dealers report many more customers queueing up for their Suzuki passenger vehicle, SUV or Super Carry commercial vehicle.”
This is the first time that Suzuki has broken through the 3 000-unit mark in one month. To put it in perspective, Suzuki set a new record of 1 577 units in July 2019 and finally broke through the 2 000-unit barrier in October 2020 with a record of 2 032 units.
October’s sales record did not last long. In February 2021, Suzuki hit a new record of 2 142 units and a month later, in March 2021, Suzuki sold 2 397 units. Less than 12 months after selling more than 2 000 units in one month, Suzuki shot up to over 3 000 units, despite the effects of a global pandemic and local sales disruptions.
“During all this time, we were facing significant challenges. Lockdown restrictions tightened again, there were severe disruptions and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and Transnet saw its ports shut down owing to cyber-attacks.
“We decided from the onset not to allow the challenges to rob us of our momentum or delay our deliveries to customers, and our dealers agreed. The result – a top 3 position in South Africa and more demand than we can satisfy every month,” says Havenga.
With total sales of over 3 000 units, Suzuki now represents 7.2% of the South African market, the company’s highest share to date. If one removes the 82 Super Carry units sold in September, then Suzuki represents 10.3% of the passenger vehicle market.
Equally impressive, was the fact that Suzuki sold over 1 200 new vehicles for rental and government fleets. This not only signifies the return of this important vehicle buying segment to the market, but it exceeds Suzuki’s previous fleet sales record by over 50%.
Several Suzuki units contributed significantly to the overall sales record. Suzuki delivered close to 1 000 new Swift models to customers (935 units) and 504 customers chose the S-Presso as their vehicle of choice in September. The Vitara Brezza, India’s top-selling vehicle, found 455 new owners and the ever-popular Ertiga was delivered to 387 new homes.
Naamsa, the automotive industry council, reports that the industry has been recovering slowly, but surely since the lifting of the most restrictive lockdown restrictions. In September, the industry sold 43 130 units, representing a local market growth of 15,8% over the previous year, when lockdown restrictions were stricter, and demand was low.
“We are extremely proud of our 75 dealer partners who have supported us throughout this period. We realise how extremely difficult it is to keep customers happy when you have trading restrictions, limited stock and other COVID-related disruptions.
“All our dealers have gone out of their way to help customers, find vehicles, provide technical support and keep the doors open for customers at odd hours. We will carry this renewed focus on our customers forward, even when all the restrictions are lifted and trading can continue unabated,” says Havenga.