The world can’t get enough of South African cars it seems. But how long will the upward trend last? Take a look at May’s numbers. Picture: Compiled from Motorpress

After reporting on the top-selling carmakers and the best-selling cars domestically, here’s an overview of SA vehicle exports in May 2023, according to NAAMSA.

The good news is SA vehicle exports were up massively last month, 31 437 units in total. This figure represents a record high improvement of 12 498 vehicles, or 67.5% compared to May 2022.

Factors lending to this increase are the low base of May 2022’s exports – due to the knock-on effects of flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and damages to the Toyota facility in Prospecton one year ago. And the fact that Ford Ranger and VW Amarok production out of Silverton appears to be ramping up.


Top-selling cars in SA
Top-selling cars in SA in May 2023. Picture: Compiled from Motorpress.

At the top of the list is Volkswagen Polo hatchback with 7 855 units shipped from the Kariega facility in May 2023. Ford’s Ranger was the 2nd most exported vehicle with 6 274 units. We cannot confirm if this figure includes VW Amarok units built in Silverton, too, but because Amarok did not make the list outright, we suspect it might. The Toyota Hilux ranks 3rd, with export numbers tallying 5 323 units. The Isuzu D-Max places 4th in SA vehicle exports, several thousand units below the Hilux with 630 units.

From there the rest of the list follows with conservative numbers: Nissan Navara 451 units out of Rosslyn, Toyota Fortuner just 146 units, down to double digits for the Toyota Corolla Cross, Nissan NP200 and Toyota Corolla Quest.

  1. Volkswagen Polo – 7 855 units
  2. Ford Ranger (VW Amarok) – 6 274 units
  3. Toyota Hilux – 5 323 units
  4. Isuzu D-Max – 630 units
  5. Nissan Navara – 451 units
  6. Toyota Fortuner – 146 units
  7. Toyota Corolla Cross – 38 units
  8. Nissan NP200 – 31 units
  9. Toyota Corolla Quest – 19 units

As is customary from BMW and Mercedes-Benz these days, the Germany manufacturers only declare their figures quarterly, so we cannot confirm how many X3 and C-Class sedan units were exported during the month, but we have no doubt they would have comfortably ranked in the top ten.


Looking forward, things don’t look as rosy for the local market when you consider recent interest-rate hikes, currency depreciation, supply chain disruptions, unrelenting load-shedding and consumer inflationary pressure. As a result, heading towards the middle of the year, WesBank says the industry’s year-to-date volumes – up 3.0% to 218 869 units – are representative of a slow recovery in the market.

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