car brands left sa
Car brands that have left the South African market. Image Pexels

Home » Five car brands that have left SA over the past decade

Five car brands that have left SA over the past decade

Over the past 10 years, top car brands have abandoned South Africa, including Datsun and Chrysler, for different reasons.

car brands left sa
Car brands that have left the South African market. Image Pexels

Over the past 10 years, there have been several car brands that left SA, including Datsun and Chrysler. Others have invested significant amounts.


South Africa’s automotive industry is one of the country’s largest economic sectors, contributing 4.3% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to Business Tech.

Several global car manufacturers have expanded their business in South Africa over the past few years.

BMW announced that it will exclusively manufacture the next-generation BMW X3 at its Rosslyn plant in Pretoria.

Others have invested significantly in their local manufacturing operations, e.g. Ford invested R15.8 billion. Toyota invested R6.1 billion to expand the production of its Hilux and Fortuner models at its plant in Durban.

Beijing Automobile International Corporation invested R11 billion in a vehicle manufacturing plant.


Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, and Ford sell the most cars in South Africa.

According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) June 2024 vehicle sales report Toyota sold 9 743 cars in the country and Volkswagen sold 5 514.

The most popular vehicle in South Africa is the Toyota Hilux, followed by the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Corolla Cross.


The South African economy and automotive industry are possible explanations for several prominent brands deciding to withdraw from the country.

Firstly, many South Africans have strong loyalty towards certain brands. It is therefore challenging for an international brand to break into the market.

Secondly, the country’s poor economic growth and challenging business environment also played a role.

Car brands like Saab and Cadillac, which target middle-class and rich clients, could not compete with Toyota, BMW, and Ford in South Africa.

These two international car brands left South Africa in 2010, followed by many others over the last ten years.


Daihatsu – 2015

This Japanese brand produced affordable small-format cars for high-density urban environments. Daihatsu’s announcement that it would leave South Africa came at the same time as it was leaving other right-hand-drive markets.

Chevrolet – 2017

Chevrolet said it was forced to withdraw from South Africa due to a lack of return on investment.  

Dodge and Chrysler – 2017

Parent company Fiat Chrysler announced in 2017 that it would discontinue sales of its Chrysler and Dodge brands in South Africa. Similar to Daihatsu, the fact that South Africa is a right-hand-drive market, informed the decision.

Datsun – 2022

Datsun re-entered South Africa in 2014, introducing an affordable hatchback car to the local market. However, in 2022, the company announced that it would withdraw from South Africa and India. Nissan, the parent company said at the time that the decision was based on an overall strategy of the business.