The genders and car buying: SA women big on SUVs, but guys still prefer hatchbacks

File picture: Newspress.

File picture: Newspress.

Published Nov 21, 2023


When it comes to the genders and their vehicle buying preferences, it seems the traditional stereotypes no longer apply.

Automotive information specialist Lightstone Auto did some comprehensive digging into South Africa’s new vehicle sales data of the past decade and found a significant shift had taken place in consumer preferences.

This comprehensive analysis shows that women are increasingly opting for SUVs and crossovers as well as double cab bakkies, while men still favour hatchbacks.

“Crossover and SUVs have become particularly popular among women, constituting a substantial 41% of total sales in 2023,” said Lightstone Head of Sales, Jaco van Staden. “Men, on the other hand, while they also started to show greater interest in crossover, SUVs and double cabs, hatches remain their preferred choice, accounting for approximately 29% to 30% of their market share.”

Female buying trends: 2014 - 2023

As IOL reported previously, SUVs for the first time ever accounted for over 50% of passenger vehicle sales during the first half of 2023, while hatchbacks were a distant second at 36.7%.

As recently as 2020 hatchbacks were the best-selling body type in SA, accounting for a shade under 43% of passenger vehicle sales in that year, while the SUVs and crossovers followed at 37.6%. But these high-riders surged ahead in 2021, overtaking the hatchbacks for the first time with a 45.2% share, versus 38%.

South Africa’s top-selling SUV in the first half of 2023 was the Toyota Corolla Cross, followed by the Fortuner and the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro. View the top 10 here.

No love left for sedans

The Lightstone Auto data also shows a consistent decline in the market share of sedans, as well as that of single cab bakkies and other niche categories, including MPVs, panel vans coupes and cabriolets.

“Changes in lifestyle needs has driven the shift away from Sedans. South African consumers are increasingly looking for vehicles that can accommodate their active lifestyles, such as outdoor adventures, family trips, and sports-related activities. SUVs and Crossovers are better suited to these varied needs,” Lightstone said.

At the same time double cab bakkies are also increasing in popularity due to their blend of passenger comfort and cargo carrying capacity. These vehicles also tend to hold their value well in the used car market, Lightstone Auto said.