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May 12th, 2017 by


Car-lovers will never agree on which manufacturer is the best. But, we can at least figure out the ones that they are most curious about.

South Africans can be seen in anything from a practical Toyota bakkie to an expensive BMW. But, what brands have our internet denizens’ interest?

We took a look at Google searches for local car manufacturers to find out just which brands South Africans are curious about.

CTAs 01 04 - South Africa's Most Searched Car Brands

Here’s what we found:

Mercedes Is The Most Searched-For Car Brand In South Africa

Our sample, which was measured through Google’s keyword planner tool, looked at car brand searches over the past year.

We then looked at the average number of searches per month for each brand to create our list.

The brands included in our research were: BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Fiat, Isuzu, Chrysler, and Ford.

This list was based on the largest manufacturers in the country.

According to our research, Mercedes Benz is the manufacturer that South Africans are most interested in.

We looked at the keywords “mercedes” and “mercedes benz”, with results showing an average of 112 700 searches per month over the last year.

The manufacturer far outstripped others when it came to searches, as the next highest number of searches were 74 000.

BMW and Toyota tied for second place at an average of 74 000 searches per month.

A full table of the results can be seen below:

most searched cars - South Africa's Most Searched Car Brands

The Least Searched Brand?

There was one car manufacturer that was listed among South Africa’s top manufacturers, but was ignored by South African internet users.

This title goes to General Motors. The term “general motors” yielded no data.

Using the term “gm” wouldn’t be a reliable measure for interest in the car, as the abbreviation refers to other terms such as general manager and is often also a typo for those attempting to search for Gmail.

So, how is General Motors a major brand with no searches to show for it?

This is likely due to the brand being known by its individual car brands, rather than the company name.

For example, most people are familiar with Chevrolet – a car made by the company – rather than General Motors.

The company also manufactures Cadillacs and Opels. GM is even responsible for the Isuzu brand, which is popular among bakkie aficionados.

So, while GM doesn’t get much love on search engines, it’s more due to awareness of the company’s individual brands over the company itself.

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CTAs 01 02 - South Africa's Most Searched Car Brands

Interest In Cars Vs. Purchases

So, do the cars which interest us the most end up being the ones we buy?

No. We found that searches do not necessarily correlate with sales. After all, in 2016, Volkswagen was South Africa’s favourite car brand in terms of sales.

The search engine results point to the brands which South Africans want to find out more about. Be it due to interest in the product, comparisons, news, or a variety of other reasons.

However, since price and availability are major role-players in whether a car is actually bought by residents, searches do not necessarily translate to sales.

This is particularly evident in the case of Ford, which saw a huge surge in searches in January.

Rather than this being due to customer demand, it was due to the controversy over the Ford Kuga. A fault in the vehicle had been blamed for a variety of spontaneous fires that occurred, making headlines across the country.

Despite being the most searched-for brand, Mercedes is only the fifth most popular brand in terms of sales. This is likely due to many South Africans being unable to afford its high-end products.

What is your favourite car brand? Let us know in the comments below!