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Rapid rise of the crossover in South Africa – The numbers

Crossovers have rapidly become one of the most popular body styles in South Africa, accounting for a sizeable 18% of the entire market in 2022, or 96,534 units out of the 529,557 new vehicles sold in the country.

This is a 360% increase in market share when compared to just four years prior, as mini-SUVs were responsible for a mere 28,835 (5%) of the 552,190 cars sold in 2018.

This express ride to fame has been the basis for automakers from all ends of the spectrum to enter the crossover segment in modern times and abandon other vehicles such as hatchbacks and sedans.

Case in point, president of Ford South Africa Neale Hill said that buyers’ propensity for the practical body style was the subsidiary’s primary reasoning for launching the new Puma in South Africa following the discontinuation of the EcoSport.

The automaker pinpointed the “mini utility” category as one of the fastest-growing in the industry and said it will play a vital role in maintaining market share within our borders not just for Ford but for almost every automaker going forward.

The sales and market share of crossovers in South Africa between 2018 and 2022, according to data compiled by Ford, were as follows:

Year Total industry sales Crossover sales Crossover market share
2018 552,190 28,835 5%
2019 536,612 43,413 8%
2020 380,206 41,022 11%
2021 464,493 66,474 14%
2022 529,557 96,534 18%
2023 566,000 (estimate) 84,915 (estimate) 15%
2024 568,000 (estimate) 85,203 (estimate) 15%
2025 567,000 (estimate) 90,732 (estimate) 16%

Crossovers are dominating the world

It’s not only in South Africa that we have seen this trend unfold, but crossovers are dominating the passenger-car industry around the globe.

In the USA, crossovers grew from under 4% of the market in the year 2000 to nearly 40% in 2018, revealed research by Consumer Reports.

Similarly, Automotive News Europe writes that SUVs and crossovers grew to 37% of total sales in the Euro-zone in 2019, up from 27% just two years prior.

In China, crossovers and SUVs made up less than 10% of all vehicle sales in 2010, shooting up to 42% in 2018, according to Market Research Future.

The industry is not yet saturated, either, as an Allied Market Research report states that the global crossover market size was valued at $541 billion (R10.17 trillion) in 2022, and is projected to nearly double to $1,079 billion (R20.28 trillion) by 2032.

From what we have gathered, it’s clear that buyers prefer crossovers over more traditional hatchbacks and sedans as they offer many of the benefits of fully-fledged SUVs at a generally lower asking price.

Crossovers boast levels of practicality akin to a sedan in terms of space, a compact footprint like a hatchback that results in easier parking and handling, and better ground clearance than both these body styles which supports an active lifestyle, makes getting in and out less laborious, and is a boon for our pothole-riddled roads.

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