SUVs vs hatches vs bakkies: here’s what the different age groups are buying in SA

Published Nov 22, 2023


The past decade has seen a big shift in the vehicle buying habits of South Africans and our counterparts abroad.

In a nutshell: we’ve all become obsessed with pavement-hopping SUVs.

According to Naamsa stats, 2021 saw crossovers and SUVs overtake hatchbacks to become the most popular automotive body style in South Africa and currently they account for more than half of the passenger car market.

Lightstone Auto recently did a deep dive into the buying habits of South Africans in the past decade, including preferred vehicle types of both men and women, which you can read more about here.

The same report has also shed some light onto the different age groups and the types of vehicles they prefer.

While most of the generations have gravitated towards SUVs in the past nine years, those below the age of 30 still predominantly buy hatchbacks, although that share has dropped from 58% to 51%, while their SUV ownership has increased from 10% to 21%.

Preferred body shape for age group: 30 and under

That hatchbacks remain king among our youth is not too surprising given they are largely more affordable, and thus attractive to those starting out in life. SA’s most popular hatchbacks include the Volkswagen Polo Vivo (from R255,600), Toyota Starlet (from R252,100) and Suzuki Swift (R205,900).

Those aged 31 to 45 have a bit more to spend, and here we see SUVs and crossovers becoming the most popular vehicle type, accounting for 33% of sales in this age group, followed by hatchbacks at 29%.

Preferred body shape for age group: 31 to 45

The SUV share increases to 38% for all of those aged over 45, while hatchbacks account for 21% in the 45 to 60 age group and 19% among those 61 and over.

Preferred body shape for age group: 46 to 60

Preferred body shape for age group: 61 and over

SA’s most popular SUVs are the Toyota Corolla Cross (from R408,100), Toyota Fortuner (R673,100) and Chery Tiggo 4 Pro (R279,900).

When it comes to double cab bakkies, sales are marginal among the younger age group below 30, but the share increases to 13% among those aged 30 to 45, rising to 16% in the 46 to 60 age group and dropping to 14% over 61.

“The 46 to 60 age group is buying Double Cabs in increasing numbers, currently accounting for above 15% of sales within this group, bringing a combined Crossover/SUV/Double Cab share to almost 55%. The over 60s have also been buying more Double Cabs, but not to quite the same extent as those in the previous demographic,” said Lightstone Head of Sales, Jaco van Staden.

One-tonne bakkies have a marginal share across the age groups.

Sedans continue to lose popularity to their SUV and hatchback counterparts and in 2023 so far they have accounted for around 10% of sales across the age groups, down from 22% among those aged from 30 to 60 a decade back.

“Lightstone Auto data reveals a consistent decline in the market share of Sedans, Single Cabs, and other sub-categories, which include Multipurpose Vehicles (MPVs), Estates, Minibuses, Cabriolets, Coupes, Sub One-Ton vehicles, and Panel van/Utilities. This decline suggests that consumers are increasingly gravitating toward the practicality and versatility offered by Crossover, SUVs, and Double Cabs”, Van Staden concluded.

Although the research did not classify buyers into the generational groups that our increasingly divisive society prefers to these days, it’s worth noting - if you will - that those aged up to 26 are currently classified as Gen Z, and if you’re currently 27 to 42 then you can consider yourself a Millenial. Gen X is currently 43 to 58 years of age while the Boomers are 59 to 68.

IOL Motoring