The South African car market is buoyant with the news that exports to the rest of Africa are on the up and Nissan has announced it is to start selling its Datsun passenger car in the country.
Figures from RGT Smart, which provides export data to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (NAAMSA), reveal a 20 per cent rise in vehicle exports from South Africa.
Japanese automaker Nissan aims to grab more first-time buyers in emerging markets with entry-level cars, consequently South Africa will be among four countries in which Nissan plans to revive the Datsun, a well known brand in several markets that the company dropped in 1981.
Nissan also plans to sell Datsun vehicles in Indonesia, India and Russia from 2014, although the manufacturer has not decided where it will produce the vehicle.
Nissan SA grew its share of exports from 14.03 percent in 2011 to 18.29 percent last year. Its exported NP300 'hardbody' bakkie had strong sales in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year (944 units) and in Ghana (2,182).
However, many manufacturers continued to be hit by the recession in Europe which has seen both Volkswagen SA and Toyota SA take some knocks with passenger car exports dipping 33.4 per cent and 27 percent respectively.
Overall, car exports from South Africa to the continent went from 67,442 vehicles in 2011 to 80,221 last year and NAAMSA believes it is likely that South Africa will export more than 100,000 vehicles a year into the rest of Africa "within two years".
Toyota’s Africa operations saw the firm export more than 40,000 units to the rest of the continent last year, mainly Hilux bakkies. This was a small increase of about 2,000 units compared to 2011.
Ford SA reported a rise in exports to the rest of the continent which went up from 4.36 percent in 2011 to 14.39 percent last year.
Exports of Ford’s Ranger grew more than tenfold last year — from 3,149 to 31,813. Its share of light commercial vehicle exports grew from statistically irrelevant to one in four exported from South Africa.