Records Fall as The Automotive Industry Rebounds

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Despite hard times, the South African Automotive Industry showed its resilience in 2021, breaking several records in the process.

In line with global trends, the South African economy together with the domestic automotive industry achieved a significant rebound from 2020's COVID-19 impacted base level. Despite not returning to pre-pandemic levels, with the industry reeling from supply chain disruptions that includes the global shortage of semiconductors, the key performance indicators still managed to break several records in 2021, as highlighted in the 2022 Automotive Export Manual publication, released by Dr Norman Lamprecht from the Automotive Industry Export Council [AIEC].

According to the publication, both vehicle and component exports saw an 18.1%, rise, going from R175.7 billion in 2020 to a record R207.5 billion in 2021, accounting for 12.5% of all South African exports! This figure includes 298,020 vehicles which were exported, an increase of 26,733 units from the previous year with a value of R138.3 billion, a massive increase of R17.1 billion over the 2020 results.

2021 saw passenger car and light commercial vehicle exports account for a significant 63,1% of total domestic light vehicle production. What this means is that nearly four out of every five vehicles produced in a local plant in 2021 found itself destined for the overseas market, with the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Japan holding the title of top export destinations. Leading this charge was VWSA thanks to the Polo, which maintained its top position for the third consecutive year.

Clicka Car Vwsa 1 Millionth Polo

Component manufacturers also made their mark, achieving a record R69.2 billion worth of exports, that’s an increase of R14.7 billion over the R54.5 billion recorded in 2020. This increase was driven by a record number of catalytic converter exports to the tune of R34.9 billion. Exporters also enjoyed an increase in the number of export destinations, going from 147 in 2020 to 152 in 2021.

Clicka Car Export Catalytic Convertor

Apart from a record-high number of exports, 2021 also saw a substantial increase in local investment, with seven OEM manufacturers investing no less than R8.8 billion in 2021, the second-highest annual figure on record. Not to be left behind, component manufacturers invested a record R5.7 billion in 2021. These investments coupled with exports, contributed 4.3% to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while the industry made up 17.3% of domestic manufacturing output.

Moving onto the local market, SA’s automotive trading environment remains a hotbed of competition with no less than 43 passenger car brands representing 3077 models all vying for buyers’ attention. Despite the vast array to choose from (the highest market-size ratio in the world) SA buyers remained loyal to established brands, which resulted in Toyota celebrating its 42nd year as the market leader, taking home 25.3% of the market share. Following hot on the heels of Toyota in 2021 was Volkswagen Group of SA, Hyundai Automotive South Africa, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa and Nissan South Africa.

Clicka Car Export Toyota Hilux

The significance of these sales and export figures may be lost on many South Africans but they represent the core strategic value of the automotive industry and the valuable role that the industry plays in keeping thousands of South Africans employed, both inside the OEMs' production plants and throughout the entire supply chain.

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