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South Africa Automotive Market Overview

South Africa Automotive Market Overview

Image from Mail & Guardian

The automotive sector in South Africa is the mainstay of the national industrial base and accounts for 6.8% of GDP (4.3% manufacturing and 2.5% retail).  South Africa improved its global ranking to 22nd (24th in 2014) in the world with a production market share of 0.68%.  

The value of exports to NAFTA in has seen a decline from $1.66 billion in 2017 to $836 million. The reason for the decline in automotive exports could mainly be attributed to the decline in vehicle exports to the U.S. in 2018. Vehicle exports to the US in 2018, at 11 440 units, were down by 28 974 units from the 40 414 units exported in 2017. Exports comprised mainly of the left-hand drive BMW 3-series, as well as smaller volumes of the new generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Ford Ranger. However, the BMW 3-series was replaced by the X3 model in South Africa in 2018 which is also being manufactured in the U.S., and therefore not exported from South Africa to the U.S. anymore.

The total automotive revenue in the ambit of the automotive business sphere in South Africa amounted to $38.1 billion in 2018 compared to $37.57 in 2017. Exports of automotive products in 2018 accounted for $13.52 billion, equating to 14.3% of total South African exports.  As the largest manufacturing sector in the country's economy, vehicle and component production accounted for 29,9% of South Africa’s manufacturing output in 2018. In addition, investments by the seven major OEMs in the country amounted to a further substantial $545 million in 2018, along with the investment of $265 million by the automotive component suppliers

The broader South African automotive industry incorporates the manufacture, distribution, servicing, and maintenance of motor vehicles and components.  In terms of the trade which supports this industry, there are approximately 4,600 garages and fuel stations (with the majority having service workshops as well) plus a further 1,898 specialist repairers; 1,374 new car dealerships holding specific franchises; an estimated 1,696 used vehicle outlets; about 292 vehicle component manufacturers, together with about 150 others supplying the industry on a non-exclusive basis; 1,508 specialist tire dealers and re-treaders; 483 engine re-conditioners; 167 vehicle body builders; 2,907 parts dealers; and around 220 farm vehicle and equipment suppliers.

In 2018, imported passenger cars accounted for 72,6% of the total passenger car market in South Africa, as a brand conscious, consumer-driven market prompted the widest choice of new passenger cars to market size ratio in the world. The growing variety of models and ever more complex technologies have therefore led to an increasing number of aftermarket parts in the market. The growth of inexpensive products, imported mainly from China, has exacerbated this trend. The import of replacement parts increased from $4.46 billion in 2017 to $4.64 billion in 2018. Top four countries of origin for aftermarket parts imported are China, Germany, U.S. and Japan.

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