Younger generation showing a newfound interest in vehicles.
BMW’s M4 is one of Gen Z’s top 10 most searched cars.
South Africans aged between 18 and 24, commonly known as Generation Z, are showing a new-found enthusiasm for learning to drive and owning a car. In fact, their interest in cars has tripled in South Africa since the start of lockdown.
This is apparent if one examines traffic by this demographic on AutoTrader which has risen by 293% since the start of Lockdown in March. As the largest digital automotive marketplace in South Africa, AutoTrader provides unparalleled insight into car-buying patterns in the country. Gen-Zs previously made up 7.8% of the car-search audience. This number has since grown to 17.2% year-on-year. These statistics are interesting because this sector of the population is typically marred by unemployment.
According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the youth aged 15 to 24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 59% in the first quarter of 2020. In fact, the government department says the persistently high youth unemployment rate has long been one of the most pressing socio-economic problems in South Africa.
So, what could be the reason for this sudden fascination with cars? In Europe, Gen-Zs are opting for personal rather than public transport because of the health benefits. While this could also be the case in South Africa, financial benefits may be a greater priority with interest rates being at an all-time low in South Africa now. Also, consider, for instance, the taxi fare hikes in June which saw prices skyrocket in some areas by as much as 172%.
“These increases – combined with the advent of lower interest rates – could make the purchase of an entry-level used car more appealing,” says George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.
Another reason for the spike in Gen-Z car interest could be the fact that a car can be a business tool. Owning a car opens up micro-entrepreneurship opportunities such as courier services, which have accelerated due to the increase in online shopping during lockdown.
This quest to own a car and / or further progress job opportunities is evidenced through AutoTrader’s K53 vehicle licence programme. The company recently produced a digital free-to-download K53 manual, which contains information needed to study for a learner’s licence. To date, the site has recorded over 130 000 downloads in just eight months (with 39% being Gen-Z).
What cars do Gen-Z want? These are their top 10 most searched for models in September.
1 Volkswagen Golf
2 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
3 Volkswagen Polo
4 BMW 3 Series
5 Toyota Hilux
6 BMW 1 Series
7 Ford Ranger
8 Audi A3
9 VW Polo Vivo
10 BMW M4
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