Local Production of Plug-In Hybrids Up 5X In South Africa

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South Africa is one of the main motor vehicle assembly and manufacturing hubs on the African continent. Vehicles are produced in South Africa for the local South African market, the regional markets on the African continent, and for export to countries on other continents, such as Europe. The motor vehicle and component production industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the South African economy. A substantial 21.7% of value addition within the domestic manufacturing output was derived from vehicle and automotive component manufacturing in 2022, while the broader automotive industry’s contribution to the GDP comprised 4.9% (2.9% manufacturing and 2.0% retail). South African automotive trade under the APDP2, amounting to R435 billion in 2022, comprised 16.5% of South Africa’s total trade GDP, up from 15.8% in 2021. This is according to the latest Automotive Industry Export Council (AIEC) Automotive Export Manual 2023.

The AIEC also says the export value of vehicles and automotive components increased by R19,8 billion, or 9.5%, from the R207.5 billion in 2021 to a record R227.3 billion in 2022, comprising 12.4% of total South African exports. Vehicle exports increased by 53,765 units to 351,785 units in 2022, up from 298,020 units exported in 2021, while the vehicle export value increased by R18.7 billion from the R138.3 billion in 2021 to R157 billion in 2022, the highest vehicle export value on record. Automotive component exports reflected an increase of R1.1 billion from R69.2 billion in 2021 to a record R70.3 billion in 2022. The number of domestic automotive industry export destinations in 2022 is comprised of 152 countries.

All of this production is essentially internal combustion engine vehicles. However, as the transition to electric mobility gains momentum in a lot of the markets South Africa exports its vehicles to, such as in Europe, urgent action is needed to accelerate the local production of electric vehicles. How is that sector looking like at the moment? Well, South Africa’s automotive council, naamsa, recently released its November update of the local motor industry. The update contained some insights on the production of electrified vehicles.

The update showed that the local production of plug-less hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) has gone up slightly for the period from January to September 2023 to 2,135 HEVs, from 1,937 HEVs over the same period in 2022. For plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), local production jumped almost 5 times to 3,534 from January to September 2023, from 733 over the same period in 2022. This is a good step in the right direction. Although the report does not give a breakdown, based on the vehicles produced in South Africa, most of the PHEVs are more likely to be Mercedes-Benz C Classes. For the HEVs, these are most likely to be dominated by Toyotas. These numbers are for passenger vehicles, and so far there doesn’t appear to be any production of full battery-electric passenger vehicles in South Africa. The naamsa update does show, however, that this year, one Extra Heavy Vehicle was produced in South Africa.


BMW recently announced that it will start producing the PHEV BMW X3 in Rosslyn, Pretoria, South Africa. Ford also builds the Ford Ranger pickup in Silverton, Pretoria. The Ranger is to get a PHEV version next year and perhaps it will also be built in Pretoria. This will result in the numbers of PHEVs built in South Africa going up even further. Hopefully automakers will look to add production of BEVs in South Africa sooner rather than later.  The South African Government needs to move quickly to incentivize this.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 786 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai