10 Most Common Car Brands In South Africa

The array of car brands found in South Africa are not just beautiful but are as powerful as imported vehicles. If they were not quality cars, automobile companies in South Africa would earn billions of Rands from exporting vehicles worldwide or invest billions in innovating more car models. More so, these South African car brands are loved because they are affordable as purchasing a vehicle within the country cuts shipping costs and import taxes.

Popular Car Brands You Will Find In South Africa

Moving in the streets of South Africa one would notice that some car brands appear more than others. For people that don’t reside in South Africa, this piece will surely give an appropriate description of what to expect in the country but if you reside there already and you are a car owner that wishes to get an upgrade, you’ll find this piece invaluable when making a decision. Find below the list of the 10 most popular car brands in the streets of S.A and why they are loved by many:


  • The Year The Brand Was Founded – 1933
  • Current CEO – Akio Toyoda
  • South African Head Quarters – Durban, South Africa

The popular Toyota car brand is known to have topped the chart as the highest-selling car brand having recorded over 8,000 unit sales as of February 2021. It came into existence in the early 1900s and in less than a hundred years into the future, it has become the largest automobile producer in the whole world. It officially produced its first passenger vehicle in 1936, and this was the Toyota AA which was made using the available resources as of then. However, when the cry for clean energy usage intensified, Toyota had to switch to the production of hybrid electric cars and is currently leading the campaign for the reduction of fossil fuel usage in automobiles.

Over the years, this car brand has captured the heart of many because of various reasons and the availability of spare parts is one of the reasons most South Africans get a Toyota – this means one doesn’t have to spend exorbitant amounts whenever a minor repair or periodic maintenance is needed. Their vehicles are also known to be fuel-efficient but since fossil fuels will soon be a thing of the past, they’ve provided the hybrid option which is both eco and pocket-friendly.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota corolla

2. Volkswagen

  • The Year The Brand Was Founded – 1937
  • Current CEO – Herbert Diess
  • South African Head Quarters – Uitenhage, South Africa

Volkswagen was founded by the German labor front and has its main headquarters situated in Berlin, Germany. The brand is best remembered for its iconic product, Volkswagen Beetle, and Ferdinand Porsche is attributed to developing the pioneering automotive engineer. More so, history has it that Adolf Hitler commissioned its production in the early 1900s because he wanted a vehicle that could accommodate 2 adults and 3 children – he wanted every German to have access to a car.

The Volkswagen brand is now known to be an exotic brand and most South Africans that go for it do so because of the status of the car. Beyond status, Volkswagens are also loved because they are well assembled, safe, and well equipped. More so, the car has been modified to conserve fuel and its speed has also been improved with recent models.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Volkswagen Arteon
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Volkswagen Jetta

3. Ford

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1903
  • Current CEO – Jim Farley
  • South African Head Quarters – Pretoria, South Africa

Ford motors was founded by Henry Ford in the early 1900s but he was not the first CEO of the company, this was because shareholders didn’t have confidence in Henry at the time – John .S. Gray who was a local banker occupied the position. With several years of consistent effective performance, the Concept of Fordism became popular in 1914 when the company found ways of enlarging production without increasing their workforce, and today, Ford happens to be the 2nd largest automaker in the USA and 5th largest in the world.

In South African and around the globe, Ford vehicles have been trending because they have a very long life span. If you ever get a Ford vehicle, you’ll enjoy its optimum performance for a very long time. Ford motors are also a go-to choice for people because they offer a wide range of products to their customers so, price and build won’t prevent anybody from getting one.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Ford F-series
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Expedition

4. Nissan

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1933
  • Current CEO – Makoto Uchida
  • South African Head Quarters – Akasia, South Africa

Masuijiro Hashimoto founded Kaishinsha motor car works in Japan on the 1st of July 1911 and after surviving a lot of corporate takeovers, it has evolved to become the Nissan motors we all know today. This popular car brand is also known to have entered into an alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi brands in 1999, this alliance is aimed at sharing research cost and output which helped in boosting the growth rate of the 3 companies.

As of now, it is known that this car brand is loved by many because of the reliability of its engine – the only requirement is that the owner keeps it well oiled and he is good to go.
Nissan vehicles are also notable for keeping up with the latest car trends and they pride themselves on having the latest gadgets –  this makes them fun to use.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Nissan Altima
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Nissan Armada

5. Hyundai

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1967
  • Current CEO – Chung Eui-Sun
  • South African Head Quarters – Bedfordview, South Africa

This a South Korean multinational automaker, it owns the largest automobile manufacturing plant facility which is situated in Ulsan, South Korea – the plant has an annual production capacity of 1.6million. However, the Hyundai motor company broke out from the Hyundai engineering and construction company in 1967, and just a year after this, they produced their first model, the Cortina. Then for them to become truly independent, they hired George Turnbull in February of 1974, and he, in turn, hired 5 other engineers and in 1975, they produced The Pony.

The Hyundai brand is currently loved because its products have lower repair frequency as long as automobiles are concerned, so anybody that’s looking to get something durable should really consider getting one. Secondly, the cost to own one of these vehicles is relatively cheap when compared to other exotic car brands.

Popular Cars In The Brands:

  • Hyundai Kona
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Hyundai Tucson

6. Suzuki

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1909
  • Current CEO – Osamu Suzuki
  • South African Head Quarters– Johannesburg, South Africa

Suzuki is another car brand of Japanese origin that had exerted its presence in South Africa. Although the company was initially into the production of silk weaving looms, the idea of diversification came in 1937, and in 2 years’ time, they produced 2 prototypes -they had a cast aluminum crankcase, a gearbox and was powered by a four-cylinder engine that generated 13hp. However, productions were halted during World War 2 and the company had to go back to loom production. Fortunately for them, sales were at their peak due to some government policies but this boom ended in 1951 when the cotton market ground to a halt and the company went back to vehicle production.

Ever since the decision to specialize in vehicle production, the company has been able to produce consumer-friendly cars for over 60 years now. South Africans are generally known to love Suzuki products because it’s able to go long distances whilst consuming very little amount of fuel. More so, the availability of spare parts makes maintaining these vehicles very cheap – that’s if at all it ever breakdown.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Suzuki Alto
  • Suzuki Presso
  • Suzuki Celerio

7. Kia

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1944
  • Current CEO – Song Ho-sung
  • South African Head Quarters – Edenvale, South Africa

Kia Motors is a South Korean automaker with its headquarters located in Seoul. The company began in 1944 with the name Kyunsung Precision Industry, they started by manufacturing steel turbines plus bicycle parts, they created their first bicycle in Korea in the year 1951. A year later, they changed to Kia industries and the name Kia stands for “to come out from the east”.

The Kia brand is loved because they offer a very wide range of options at different prices to the customers, from the high-end to the low budget options, there is something for every South African. Kia cars also come with a couple of modern sensors which guarantees the safety of passengers.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Kia Cadenza
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia optima

8. BMW

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1916
  • Current CEO – Oliver Zipse
  • South African Headquarters – Midrand, South Africa

BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke which roughly translates to the Bavarian Motor Works Company. The company was first formed as Bayerische Flugzeugwerke and it was initially an aircraft producer. The guest car which was sold as a BMW was a rebadged Dixi called BMW3/15. For many years in the 1930s, the company concentrated on the production of sports and luxury cars however, as World War II intensified, they began to produce airplane engines. The company would later resume its car production in 1952 with the release of the BMW 501 luxury saloon.

As of now, BMW cars rank among the highest selling cars in South Africa. They are loved for their sleek, stylish, and high-quality which is what makes them so popular among the business class. More so, the new tech features, as well as the high-quality materials used in making the interior, is another reason why people prefer this car brand to others.

Popular Cars In This Brand:

  • BMW 507
  • BMW M535i
  • BMW M3

9. Renault

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1898
  • Current CEO – Luca de Meo
  • South African Headquarters – Johannesburg, South Africa

This renowned car company was initially set up in the year 1898 by 3 brothers, Louis, Marcel, and Fernand Renault. Louis who was an engineer took care of the construction company while his brothers who were businessmen before the alliance focused on managing the business. The first Renault car the Renault voiturette 1CV was sold in 1898, and soon after that, mass production kicked off in full. Their first major sales then happened when the transport union in France purchased a fleet which they initially used for taxis and later converted them to cars used for transporting soldiers when World War 1 broke out.

Renault is currently one of the trending cars in South Africa and they account for a large chunk of cars sold annually. These cars catch the fancy of most individuals because they are relatively cheap when compared to other brands. Renault cars also have a very streamlined build which makes them looked fancy and accounts for their high speed which is a  good reason why one would want to pick up a Renault today.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Renault Kwid
  • Renault Kiger
  • Renault Triber

10. Isuzu

  • The Year It Was Founded – 1916
  • Current CEO – Billy Tom
  • South Africa Headquarters – Sandton, South Africa

The company was set up in Japan in the year 1916 when Ishikawanima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd formed a cooperation with Tokyo gas and electric industrial company to build automobiles. The name Isuzu was gotten from the Isuzu River which flows near to the Ise Grand Shrine which is one of the most sacred shrines in Japan. About 3 years after the company was established, their first passenger car was unveiled in 1919.

South Africans cherish Isuzu products because they are quite easy to maintain, one doesn’t have to think of frequent breakdowns when choosing this product. Coupled with this is the fact that the car itself has a very long lifespan, so getting it means that you won’t be in a hurry for an upgrade for a long time. Another reason why Isuzu vehicles are popular is that they are good for long road trips, whatever be the occasion, your Isuzu has got you covered. No wonder it estimated that as of 2021 more than 1000 units of the car have been sold in South Africa.

Popular Cars In The Brand:

  • Isuzu Crosswind
  • Isuzu D-max
  • Isuzu mu-X

Summary of the Most Popular Car Brands (And Their Models) In South Africa

  1. Toyota (Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry, and Toyota corolla)
  2. Volkswagen (Volkswagen Arteon, Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Jetta)
  3. Ford (Ford F-series, Ford Explorer, and Ford Expedition)
  4. Nissan (Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima and Nissan Armada)
  5. Hyundai (Hyundai Kona, Hyundai Accent, and Hyundai Tucson)
  6. Suzuki (Suzuki Alto, Suzuki Presso, and Suzuki Celerio)
  7. Kia (Kia Cadenza, Kia Forte, and Kia Optima)
  8. BMW (BMW 507, BMW M535i, and BMW M3)
  9. Renault (Renault Kwid, Renault Kiger and Renault Triber)
  10. Isuzu (Isuzu Crosswind, Isuzu D-max and Isuzu mu-X)
Tyna G
Tyna G
A digital nomad with a never-ending curiosity and passion for discovering new places, cultures and creative outlets - this author has been writing her way around the globe for many years. Everything from entertainment to biographies, reviews to travel tips, you’ll always find stunning high quality content coming from her


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