Despite Coronavirus pandemic over 43% vehicle imports in South Africa in 2020 were from India

Nine of the top 10 selling vehicles in 2020 were South African-built passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

By:Updated: May 10, 2021 12:56 PM
vehicle imports south africaPhoto: PTI

India was the top country of origin for vehicle imports into South Africa despite the lengthy COVID-19 lockdowns and overall declines in vehicle sales in 2020, according to the 2021 Automotive Export Manual report released on Friday by the Automotive Industry Export Council. The report states that India has been established by several global brands as a production hub for entry-level and small vehicles, and most of the vehicles imported from the country fell into these categories.

Volkswagen’s Polo Vivo was the only vehicle in these segments that were manufactured locally in South Africa in 2020. The 87,953 units imported from India accounted for 43.2 percent of total passenger cars and light commercial vehicles imported by South Africa.

Nine of the top 10 selling vehicles in 2020 were South African-built passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. An interesting phenomenon is that South African motorists are more inclined to rather drive bakkies (pickups), which have both commercial and leisure vehicle applications, than passenger cars.

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This was good news for Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra SA, the local subsidiary of the Indian automotive manufacturer. The Mahindra Pik Up has been the fastest growing range of bakkies in the past three years.

“There is a strong and growing bond between India and South Africa. Not only trades between the two countries strong, but South Africa is a perfect springboard for Indian products into the rest of the continent. This is especially true for our range of Pik Up models, which is assembled locally and exported to countries in the Southern African Development Community,” Gupta told PTI.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, South African vehicle exports declined by a massive 115,804 units to 271,288 units in 2020, from the record 387,092 vehicles exported in 2019, with the export value declining by Rs 26.8 billion from the Rs 148.0 billion in 2019 to Rs 121.2 billion in 2020.

Despite this, the report remained optimistic about the automotive industry for the current year, dependent on the actions of governments in response to the pandemic as well as the vaccine and how it is rolled out.

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