Sector profile

About the South African automotive industry

The automotive industry is an important pillar in the South African economy, contributing 7.5% to the country’s GDP and employing over 110,000 people directly, with the automotive component segment accounting for 72% of the total. Annual production was 570,890 in 2016, of which 60% was exported.

Vehicle production in South Africa

South Africa represents the largest domestic market for vehicles in Africa, and is the continent’s biggest producer. South Africa’s trade environment opened up rapidly in the early 1990s as the country integrated into the global economy after years of isolation.

The South African automotive industry is comprised of seven major vehicle assemblers, thirteen assemblers of heavy and medium commercial vehicles, and approximately 360 component manufacturers. The value chain is primarily driven by the seven OEMs, BMW, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota, and is clustered into four primary geographic areas, each home to one or more OEM:


KwaZulu-Natal (primarily Durban, but also Pietermaritzburg) is home to Toyota’s assembly plant, South Africa’s largest producer of vehicles, and approximately 20% of the automotive components industry.


East London is the residence of Mercedes-Benz’s assembly plant and roughly 6% of the automotive components industry.


Port Elizabeth/Uitenhage is home to General Motors and Volkswagen, and about 30% of the automotive components industry.


Gauteng has the largest concentration of automotive manufacturing in South Africa, with three OEMs (BMW, Ford and Nissan) and approximately 40% of the South African automotive components industry.