The larger vehicles of the pre 90’s have made place for medium-sized and smaller sized motor vehicles, aided by the expense of fuel but also due to budget issues, smaller households needing less space and manoeuvrability issues and parking space scarcity. The small car has arrived to stay.
In a place like South Africa where 2 motors are a necessity because of the absence of adequate trains and buses, it also seems sensible that the 2nd vehicle should be small because of cost of purchase and functional costs favouring the small car. Small car style and design has developed so much that most small cars can handle transporting 4 individuals in comfort and ease over short distances like urban travel. Modern engine technologies have progressed where 1 litre and 1.2 litre motors are more than ample to power these cars rendering them very economical. While not ideally created to cover extended distances in great comfort one often spot these little cars in urban centers far removed from their registered cities, which means men and women are prepared to travel distances with a small car. Whereas in the 60’s, 1970’s and even the 1980’s large cars were normal in South Africa that market has shrunk to the executive level only which is reasonably small in favour of medium and small cars.
Asian car manufacturers in particular has cashed in on the small car industry, while in addition there are some European models accessible in South Africa. These modest cars are pretty, cheeky and well furnished, making them very well liked as a first car buy among the younger generation who are further attracted to the options accessible to customize the cars. The designers have pulled out all stops to make these motor vehicles funky and fun to travel in and some are equipped with excellent entertainment systems. The days where ones success in life and size of income somewhat was coupled to the size of the car in your drive way have thankfully all but disappeared, certainly among the middle class of the population. Looking at the traffic in our towns the small motor vehicle is most visible in their numbers while twenty years ago they were visible as oddities.
Today Korea, Japan, India and china are the market leaders in the manufacturing of the small car with Europe having woken up to the way forward for the small car. These cars, which even 10 years ago, specially those from Asia, were a bit sloppy, plastic and cheap, but that has all improved. Some renowned small cars have actually grown in size, while other producers produced some of the world’s most compact cars. This trend seems to have settled and many small vehicles are rolling off the manufacturing lines with even the Americans having had to concede to some more compact models. The financial aspects of these vehicles simply makes sense as you can buy a medium sized car and a small vehicle for even less than the price of some large motor vehicles which in South Africa reach prices of R600 000 upwards when compared to the small car for even less than R100 000 in some cases.