Is your car proudly made in South Africa? There's a wealth of car-building expertise in our Republic, with plants manufacturing marques like Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, VW, Mahindra and more.
Global car brands have long had positive associations with South Africa, and while there are nine brands that currently build vehicles in the country, a handful have been manufacturing cars here since the 1950s and '60s.
Take a look at the list below to see if your pride and joy was proudly built in SA.
Ford has one of the longest manufacturing histories in South Africa, with its Struandale engine plant in Gqeberha opening for business all the way back in 1964 (when the road signs still said Port Elizabeth). Ford SA maintains two local plants, the other being in Silverton outside Pretoria. The rugged Ford Ranger is one of the most popular vehicles in our market, and it's built in Silverton, with units also exported all over Africa. The Blue Oval brand recently invested over R2 billion into the plant and is working closely with the South African government to build a giant Industrial Development Zone, with their plant right at the centre.
With its roots in East London stretching back to 1958, Mercedes-Benz South Africa celebrated the production of their one millionth vehicle back in 2015. The luxury marque's popular C-Class sedan is currently built in the facility, both for the local market and for export all over the world. The flagship S-Class also used to be built in South Africa, with workers creating the famous once-off Mandela S-Class, which was gifted to Nelson Mandela in 1995 after his election to the Presidency.
While Mahindra is a relative newcomer to the South African manufacturing scene, the brand is no stranger to making cars. It's been producing motor vehicles in its native India since 1945, and is renowned for robust and reliable vehicles. With a state-of-the-art vehicle assembly facility in the Dube Tradeport Special Economic Zone producing around 4 000 Pik-Ups per year, the company also sources 40% of its components locally, which has the very uplifting effect of creating jobs all the way down the supply chain.
Formerly owned by American giant General Motors, Isuzu is now a stand-alone brand with ownership back in the hands of its Japanese founders. The KB bakkie (soon to be rebranded the D-Max) has legendary status in South Africa, and perennially sells over 1 000 units every month. Before Covid-19 struck, Isuzu invested heavily in their PE plant to enable it to begin local production of the new-generation D-Max bakkie. While the pandemic has created a delay, production is due to start in 2022 on what will be a world-class bakki, for our market and for export.
Rosslyn, Tshwane, has been Nissan's home since The Beatles were topping the charts with I Want To Hold Your Hand (that'd be 1964; ask your gogo). The factory has produced millions of vehicles and created tens of thousands of jobs over the years. The NP200 light pick-up, the NP300 1-tonner and the highly advanced new Navara bakkie are all made here. In the past, through licensing agreements, Nissan has also produced cars for brands such as Peugeot, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. Fun fact: the feisty, classic Fiat Uno hatchback was built by Nissan, right here in Rosslyn.
One of the busiest plants on the continent, Toyota's Prospecton factory in KwaZulu-Natal recently received a R2-billion modernisation investment to prepare it for the future. Toyota has announced the local production of hybrid Corolla sedan and Corolla Cross models, which marks the first time hybrids will be built on the African continent. As well as those models, the top-selling Hilux and Fortuner models are also proudly produced in Durban.
Venerable German brand Volkswagen has been making cars in South Africa for an incredible 70 years, making its manufacturing plant in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) the longest-running in the land. VW SA has built a catalogue of iconic cars over the years, including the unforgettable Kombi and Beetle (again, ask your gogo). The plant currently produces the popular Polo for the local market and for export, as well as the Polo Vivo.
South Korean giant Hyundai has a plant on Gauteng's East Rand, where the EX8 commercial truck is assembled for our market and for export to our regional neighbours. The company invested over R100 million to set up the Benoni plant, and has created hundreds of jobs in the process.
South Africa and BMW's German mothership have long enjoyed a close and fruitful relationship, with many of BMW's finest cars built and developed in South Africa. These include the SA-only 333i, which has become one of the rarest and most valuable BMWs in history. With its roots in Rosslyn, Tshwane, stretching back to 1973, until recently the plant was responsible for a large portion of BMW 3-Series production for global markets. It currently builds the popular X3 SUV.
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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.