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AutoTrader sees uptick in online vehicle sales

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 09 Apr 2024
2024 will see continued growth of car subscription options, says AutoTrader.
2024 will see continued growth of car subscription options, says AutoTrader.

AutoTrader South Africa says local consumers are increasingly opting to purchase their vehicles online, with the number of shoppers on the automotive marketplace up by 11% so far this year.

According to the 2023 Annual Car Industry report compiled by AutoTrader, visits to the site have been steadily increasing since 2019, showing a year-on-year growth of 97%.

The report attributes this trend to evolving consumer buying habits, and particularly the massive shift to online shopping during the COVID pandemic.

AutoTrader says its platform effectively connects thousands of sellers with prospective buyers. It uses advanced tech to provide a quick vehicle valuation based on live market data. Sellers can either get an instant offer from the marketplace’s partner buyers within 60 minutes of registering, or they can opt for the longer-term option of listing their car on AutoTrader. The site also offers a trade-in offer, arranged with the dealership selling a buyer’s car.

“With the digital revolution, consumers are increasingly seeking transparency, convenience, efficiency, and safety,” says George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

“The ability to research, compare, and purchase vehicles from the comfort of one’s home is not just a trend but a fundamental step-change in the car buying journey. Dealerships are responding to this trend by enhancing their online presence. For instance, virtual tours, online negotiations, and home delivery services are now offered.”

Online marketplaces

The growth in online sales comes despite SA experiencing a downturn in new passenger vehicle sales in 2023.

Over the past few years, South Africa has seen a growing number of players entering the online marketplace space for vehicle sales, including Auto Mart, Facebook Marketplace, Weelee, WeBuyCars, Bid4Cars, The Car Auction, and

Used car online marketplace Weelee previously told ITWeb it had seen ‘exponential growth’ in the number of prospective car buyers opting for online bidding. Since its launch in 2017, Weelee has helped over 100 000 South Africans sell their vehicles, noting it has doubled its sales year-on-year

Other trends to look out for in 2024, according to AutoTrader, are the continued growth of car subscription and shared mobility options, which have soared in SA over the past year. A vehicle subscription provides flexible long-term access to vehicles, through one all-inclusive monthly fee.

“Car subscriptions are made for people on the move. Customers can easily return the car, renew the contract or even buy out the car they’ve been driving. These alternative models could fiscal a sub-prime gap where traditional purchasing and financing structures lack in 2024.”

In addition, AutoTrader forecasts 2024 could see more consumers relying on shared mobility services, such as ride-hailing and car-sharing.

“In South Africa, where urbanisation is increasing, shared mobility offers a convenient and cost-effective alternative to owning a car. Of course, many South Africans will still purchase a new or used car – as they did last year,” concludes the AutoTrader report.