The majority of light vehicles produced in South Africa in 2022 were exported rather than sold locally. So, which countries receive most of our "made-in-SA" cars and bakkies?

In 2022, a whopping 351,785 locally built new vehicles were exported from South Africa, representing a year-on-year increase of 18% and 66.9% of total vehicle production in the country. In the process, SA-built cars and bakkies were shipped off to 110 nations around the world last year.

But which countries received the majority of these “Made-in-SA” vehicles? Well, according to Naamsa, the United Kingdom was again the top export destination in 2022, accounting for 67,884 units or 19.34% of light vehicles exported. However, Germany was a mere 485 vehicles behind in second, with 67,399 units (or 19.21%) sent over to the central European country.

France (23, 772 units) completed the podium, though Japan (23,750 units) was right on its tail in 4th position, gaining a place compared with 2021. The United States rocketed up the table to fifth spot, with SA shipping off 20,566 units (a year-on-year increase of 171.7%) to the major North American market.

Fascinatingly, Italy (18, 914 units) slipped two rankings to sixth, though still finished well ahead of seventh-placed Belgium (14,812 units). Australia (11,507 units), Spain (9,588 units) and the Netherlands (7,484) closed out the top 10, while the remaining 100 destinations contributed 85,268 units between them.

Volkswagen was the biggest vehicle exporter from South Africa in 2022, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Ford, BMW and Toyota. As a reminder, the passenger vehicles manufactured in South Africa last year were the BMW X3, Ford Everest (previous generation), Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Toyota Corolla Quest, Toyota Corolla Cross, Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Polo hatchback and Volkswagen Polo Vivo.

Meanwhile, the light-commercial vehicles produced on local soil in 2022 were the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Nissan NP200, Nissan NP300, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Hi-Ace and Toyota Quantum.

As a destination region, Europe continued to dominate and accounted for 72.7% of light vehicles exported from South Africa in 2022, thanks largely to both Germany and France reflecting major year-on-year increases. Of course, as Naamsa points out, the future of SA’s vehicle exports to Europe is under threat owing to increasingly strict emissions regulations in that part of the world.

Naamsa warns these regulations “could add a significant cost to any vehicle produced in the domestic market for exports to the region” and also points to legislation to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the European Union by 2035 as a “significant risk to vehicle exports”.

Top 10 export destinations for SA-built light vehicles in 2022


- United Kingdom – 67, 884 units (19.34%)
- Germany – 67, 399 units (19.21%)
- France – 23, 772 units (6.77%)
- Japan – 23, 750 units (6.77%)
- United States – 20, 566 units (5.86%)
- Italy – 18, 914 units (5.39%)
- Belgium – 14, 812 units (4.22%)
- Australia – 11, 507 units (3.28%)
- Spain – 9, 588 units (2.73%)
- Netherlands – 7, 484 units (2.13%)






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