South Africa earned a total of R164.9 billion from automotive exports in 2017 according to reports released by the 2018 Automotive Export Manual (AEM). This comprised 13.9 percent of the total exports of South Africa in that year. However, this was a decline from the R171.1 billion at 15.6 percent of the total in 2016.

The report also indicates that the auto manufacturing sector accounted for 30.1 percent of the country’s manufacturing output. The automotive sector, which is the largest manufacturing sector in SA, amounted to more than R500 billion in 2017. The automotive industry contributed 6.9 percent (2.5% retail and 4.4% manufacturing) which was an increase from 7.4 percent made in 2016. 

In 2017, about R8.2 billion funds were invested by the seven major light vehicle manufacturers while the automotive component manufacturers invested R4 billion. In contrast, the light vehicle manufacturers invested R6.4 billion while component manufacturers made an R2.6 billion investment. These figures clearly show that the automotive manufacturing industry is likely to remain essential to growth and success of South Africa’s economy. 

In 2017, exports of right- and –left hand driven vehicles and other diverse range of automotive components produced in South Africa totaled to 338, 093. These items were exported to 149 countries across the continent. The UK was among the top destination of vehicles exported from SA with 98, 358 vehicles. Automotive components such as catalytic converters remain ed the most popular exports at R18.7 billion (37.2 percent). Engine parts were also significant export components at R3.7 billion while tires and engines followed closely at totals of R2.5 billion and R2.4 billion, respectively. Germany once again was the top export market for vehicles and parts combined in value totaling to R46.7 billion while the US followed at R18.8 billion. 

Exports to African countries totaled to R29.7 billion at 18 percent of the total exports in 2017. Namibia was top at R7.1 billion exports while Botswana followed at R4.7 billion. The African market was adversely affected by economic downturn fueled by a steep decline in commodities which made vehicle sales to decline to 1.2 million vehicles in 2017 from 1.72 million vehicles in 2014.

Vehicle imports to SA increased to R59.8 billion in 2017 from R56.2 million in 2016. Light vehicles imported from India totaled at 88, 110 units (29.9 percent) making it the top in volume. Other countries included Germany at R69 billion and Japan at R20 billion.