It is often said that freedom brings prosperity. For South Africa, that has certainly been the case. Since the end of apartheid in the mid 1990s, South Africa has been growing into one of the global economy’s rising stars.
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For much of the past 20 years, South Africa has been mentioned as a member of the BRICS group. BRICS is an acronym for a group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) who are deemed to be at a similar stage of advanced economic development. And until recently, these BRICS nations were outperforming the global economy as a whole. In South Africa’s case, the economic growth has been dramatic, with gross domestic product (GDP) rising from US$ 144 billion in 1996 to more than US$ 723 billion by 2015. That’s more than 500 percent growth in less than 20 years.
The automotive industry has been among the industries to have prospered during these boom times. Overall, the industry employs about 100,000 people in original equipment (OE) assembly and parts manufacturing, and an additional 200,000 people in the aftermarket and retail segments.
However, with a population of approximately 53 million people, South Africa has a modest vehicle parc of only 6.6 million vehicles. Nevertheless, that is the most vehicles of any nation in Africa. South Africa’s 10-year compounded annual growth rate for vehicles in operation of 4.4 percent slightly lags the rest of the continent, which is at 5.8 percent.
The car parc is incredibly diverse for such a small market. In 2015, 37 different brands, representing 344 unique models were sold, comprising an annual sales volume of just over 620,000 units. Overall, the market was down by 4.1 percent from 2014, when sales were 646,716 units. The market is dominated by five brands that represent 67 percent of new units last year.
Toyota, which has led in market share for many years, comprised 19.9 percent of the market, and was followed by Volkswagen Group (15.9 percent), Ford (12.7 percent), Hyundai-Kia (9.6 percent) and General Motors/Isuzu (9.5 percent). Amongst the top five manufacturers, only Ford saw growth in sales during 2015, up by 5 percent.