Africa is the most sought after market by car manufacturers. Rapid urbanization in parts of the continent attributes to the demand of vehicles, with more people opting to own a vehicle over using public transportation to move in and around cities.
South Africa tops the list for the largest new car market in Africa, with over 600,000 new cars sold in 2015. The north African region follows with over 300,000 cars sold in Algeria and Egypt and over 100 000 in Morocco. Nigeria and Kenya take the 6th and 12th position respectively with sales in Nigeria just over 50,000 and over 13,000 in Kenya for the year 2015 according to a report by Best Selling Car Blog.
The most popular type of car on the continent are pick-up trucks, especially in tourism heavy countries such as Kenya and Botswana and in countries with insufficient or poor road infrastructure. In most African countries, it is easier to drive a 4×4 vehicle over pot-holed roads and dirt roads. The most popular 4×4 trucks particularly in Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe are the Isuzu KB, the Mitsubishi L200, the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and the Toyota Land Cruiser. The Isuzu KB dominates the Zimbabwean car market with an 11.4 percent market share, with the Mitsubishi L200 dominating the Ugandan car market with a 15.1 percent market share. The Isuzu KB is vastly popular for fuel efficiency, low CO2 emissions and massive towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes. The Mitsubishi L200 is also popular for its eco-friendliness with CO2 emissions and towing capacity, and its loved for overall good performance due to its diesel engine.
Below is a list of some of the most popular car brands in Africa.
Toyota was founded in 1937 by Japanese entrepreneur Kiichiro Toyoda, and it is the largest car manufacturer in the world. According to Best Selling Car Blog, Toyota is the top selling car manufacturer in Africa with an overall 15% market share. The best sellers include the Hilux, which is the top selling car in 30 African countries and the Corolla spanning through generations dating back to the 80s. Motorists love this brand because it is relatively affordable, durable, easy to maintain and can be sold off for a profitable price after being used. Regular upgrades, better features and motor components also make this brand popular among African motorists. The Hilux is popular for its solid construction and a reputation for reliability, while the Corolla is popular for its fuel-efficiency, affordability and long lifespan (depending on regular maintenance by the driver), providing dependable transportation for well over 160 000 kilometres.
The Toyota Etios reached its highest world rankings for the most vehicles sold in South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Apart from the Hilux being the most popular SUV from Toyota, the Land Cruiser, Fortuner and Jeep Grand Cherokee follow close behind. These SUVs are popular for their smooth ride, plenty seating space and affordability.
Photo credit: Stig Nygaard
German brand Volkswagen, meaning ‘people’s car’ is mainly popular in Southern Africa, with the Polo Vivo being the top selling VW model in South Africa at 2,871 units sold in July 2015 followed by the VW Polo which sold 2,084 units the same month. VW is solely popular in South Africa in the SADC region, with Toyota Etios, Corolla and Hilux, as well the Isuzu KB dominating the SADC region. VWs are renowned for keeping their value, their efficient turbo engines and their overall good looks.
Photo credit: alliance/ dpa
According to car website Carmudi, the Korean brand KIA is one of the most popular brands in Nigeria and is mostly used for official vehicles because of its affordability and fuel conservation. The brand has a 9 percent market share in Tanzania and the Kia Picanto is one of the top sellers in Angola. The brand is also popular for its regular model upgrades, better features and motor components. Following the Rio and Picanto models, the Kia Sportage is a popular choice among SUV motorists in Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt.
Photo credit: kia.com
Hyundai is a South Korean automotive manufacturer that is popular on the continent for its affordable cars. It is similar to its sister company KIA, with its regular feature improvements and better motor components. According to reports, Hyundai outsells Toyota in four major African markets, namely Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Angola. The i10 series has been vastly popular in Angola, with the 2003 Verna being popular in Egypt.
Photo credit: hyundai.com
The Renault brand of vehicles is particularly popular in Morocco. The car brand has existed in the country for over 80 years prior to opening an auto assembly plant in Tangier, producing approximately 400 000 cars annually with a focus on exports for Europe and North Africa according to a report by Focus2Move. The Sandero is a popular model on the continent, owing to its low fuel consumption and its affordable price.
Photo credit: renault.com
Nissan was founded in 1933 by Masujiro Hashimoto, Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, Meitaro Tekeuchi and Yoshisuke Aikawa in Japan. It is a popular brand on the continent, with the Maxima, Altima and Murano being the most popular. The Nissan Harbody tops the list in terms of popularity as it can survive rugged terrains and dirt roads, and can carry loads, which makes it useful and sustainable in the African climate. The Murano is a popular choice being an SUV, as it can drive over challenging terrain and it looks stylish and sophisticated.
Photo credit: www.nissan-global.com
The growing middle class and the wealthy class, especially from oil-rich countries, have created a market for luxury vehicles. According to reports, this is due to the classes’ aspirations for luxury and displays of wealth and affluence, with middle class customers willing to opt for second-hand brand names to attain the high-end cars. For many years, South Africa has provided the continent’s highest demand for luxury cars, but as of late, Nigeria’s Victoria Island, which boasts one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the world, has been the go-to market for high-end automotive cars.
The SUV model is reported to be the model that is in the highest demand on the continent. Not only is the SUV a symbol of affluence and wealth, it is practical for driving on often poorly maintained roads in most main cities in Africa.
The Range Rover brand has been in existence since 1978, it is a popular SUV brand on the continent. Not only can it drive well in rugged terrain and is great for safaris, it is also a symbol of affluence for motorists. The Range Rover Evoque has gained much popularity with the younger customer base, particularly in West Africa. Range Rover used Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji as the ambassador for the Evoque to increase its appeal to a younger customer base that hadn’t driven a Range Rover before. The current ambassador for the brand is TV personality Joselyn Dumas. The SUV was introduced on the continent after it was customized to suit the African market with its compact size and an engine compatible with the available quality of fuel. The Evoque is a sleek, sporty-looking model that is smaller than other Range Rovers, suitable for city driving, but still copes well off road, an increasingly important factor for cars to sell well in Africa.
Founded by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler in 1886, the Mercedes Benz is a popular choice for motorists seeking an appeal of class and sophistication. The brand is loved for its durability, sleek design and its association to wealth.Business Daily Africa reports that Mercedes Benz is a top seller in Kenya, having sold 53 brand new units by June 2015. Buyers included government officials, businessmen and senior corporate executives. Middle class motorists particularly in Kenya have opted for second-hand Mercedes Benz vehicles as a way of attaining the appeal of sophistication and wealth at a fraction of the price, an option which is popular in the country. According to Taipei Times, Mercedes Benz is also popular in South Africa, with average sales of 20,000 vehicles per year. Mercedes was as a top seller for 2014 in Angola, with over 1000 vehicles sold. Popular models among African motorists include the Mercedes C-Class and the SUV ML63 AMG.
Associated with speed, affluence and wealth, Porsche is gaining popularity on the continent, with the SUV Porsche Cayenne being popular particularly in Nigeria and Angola. Porsche first opened its showroom in South Africa in 1952 in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and in Luanda, Angola and Victoria Island, Nigeria in 2012 due to consumers’ demand for the Cayenne in particular. In 2013, Porsche sold 2,000 vehicles in sub-Saharan Africa in the first three quarters. The manufacturer is reportedly looking into expanding into Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania, Gabon and Cameroon.
Bayerische Motoren Werke, better known as BMW, is a popular for its sleek style, urban sophistication and association with wealth. BMW is the top selling luxury vehicle in South Africa for the year 2014 for a 5th consecutive year. According to the BMW Group, this is attributed to the steady sales of core models such as the BMW 3 Series Sedan, 1 Series hatch, X5 and X3 and to the success of newer models such as the MINI Hatch, BMW X4 and 4 Series Gran Coupé. The BMW X3 is the most popular model in Egypt, ranking at number 40 for overall sales in the country. In Tanzania, BMW has a 6.8 percent market share, and ranks 7th on the list of to selling cars in the country.