I recently had the opportunity to speak at the NAAMSA CEO Council on the importance of big data in the automotive industry. Also to bring CEOs of different OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) up to speed with where AutoTrader SA thinks the market is. 

If you have any influence/control over the direction of your business in its current environment. I would say that it’s important to think about some of the topics mention in this post. 

Autotrader SA is a corporate profit-seeking entity and an automotive company. We need to try and ensure that our automotive industry and economy in South Africa continues to grow.

What is the future of the automotive industry in SA?

You may be asking what the future of the automotive industry in South Africa is.

I am personally invested in South Africa. My commitment is to use my voice and our amazing platform to ensure that our industry survives and thrives. 

This is one of the underlying things that we try and do on a regular basis. Yes, we can all chase profits but at the end of the day, if your heart’s not in the right place, profits are a downstream result of driving or living your passions.

I have been very fortunate to travel the world and meet interesting people, attend interesting events. But more importantly to learn and be mentored by influential people in the world. 

I have a very close relationship with Chip Perry. He started the very first AutoTrader (autotrader.com) in the USA, which is the biggest one in the world. 

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and engage with Dale Pollock. He pioneered the car valuation platform that is called Vauto in America.

But in saying all of this I couldn’t have done it alone. One of the bedrocks of any business is its people. I think way into the future about products, disruptions, and technologies. But in the end,  the world is not made up of computers, it is made up of people.

How big is the South African automotive industry in 2021?

Using context from AutoTrader SA scale:

  • 76 million pages opened a month,
  • Over 10 million visits
  • Distributing 500,000 leads to the market.

The last 16 years have been very interesting in terms of digital innovation and transformation. AutoTrader SA is now 30 times bigger than we were a decade ago. I’m saying this to explain the importance of automotive data during this pandemic. 

AutoTrader SA learned a couple of lessons along the way

Mostly that there are two driving forces in our automotive economy:

1 –  Macroeconomic forces

2 – Consumer mind shifts

There was more than a 5% decline in new car sales coming into 2020. I think the biggest message here is that the automotive data shows us that the consumer mind shift happened so fast that we battled to even keep up. 

During the lockdown, last year consumer behaviour shifted literally overnight, but that’s probably not the most important part. The shift back in consumer behaviour as lockdown eased, was even more significant and pronounced. 

It’s more the speed of the shifts that are important. And the only way we realised/recognised these shifts was because of the ocean of automotive data from the AutoTrade SA website. 

At the moment, the platform is growing at more than 50% year on year. 

Last year, However during March and April, we didn’t grow because people were shopping for food and everyone thought we would be living in Dungeons. AutoTrader SA has been growing significantly and we’re very fortunate and I’m very humbled, by the growth that we’ve seen while consumer behaviour continues to shift.