Key Actions for Growing the Automotive Industry in South Africa

The Importance of Location

To grow the automotive industry in South Africa, motor manufacturers must optimize their dealership networks through strategic data analysis and accessibility modelling.  The term “location, location, location” underscores the critical importance of location in developing the automotive industry in South Africa. The principle of “location, location, location” draws from various frameworks.

In urban economics the bid-rent and central place theories highlights how proximity to key economic hubs is vital for growth and maintaining good returns on investment. Behavioural geography emphasizes the role of perception, accessibility, and convenience in location desirability to potential customers. Neighbourhood effects and gentrification are key social and cultural theories that emphasize the importance of location while environmental psychology focuses on the importance of customers attachment to places and environmental quality. Together, these theories illustrate why location is often the most decisive factor in real estate valuation.

Consequently, focusing on regional opportunities, particularly in high-potential areas like Gauteng and the Western Cape, will be crucial for the automotive industries growth. The sections below provide key priorities for the motor industry to consider in developing their dealer networks.

Strategic Network Optimization

Comprehensive Data Analysis

  •  Conduct ‘greenfields’ and ‘brownfields’ analyses to determine optimal dealership locations.
  • Use market potential, consumer preferences, and competitor presence data to inform decisions.

Leverage Accessibility Modelling Tools

  •  Use accessibility modelling tools to understand local dynamics and optimum dealership accessibility.
  • The identification of prime spots for new dealerships must consider economic activity centres, such as motor hubs, shopping malls and transport intersections.

Regional Focus


  • Identify high-potential regions such as Pretoria, Midrand, Johannesburg, East Rand/Ekurhuleni, and Vaal focus on
  • Consider different dealership sizes based on market demand and existing dealership develop the network

Western Cape:

  • Expand in areas that are expanding like Cape Town’s Atlantic Coast and Northern Suburbs.
  • Develop smaller dealerships in areas with constrained development potential.


  • Focus on larger dealerships in high-potential markets and smaller ones in less accessible areas.
  • Well-serviced areas like Pietermaritzburg may not have additional capacity..

Eastern Cape:

  • Target growth of smaller dealership in areas like Gqeberha, East London, and Mthatha.

Rural Provinces:

  •  Develop smaller dealerships in urban centers such as Mangaung, Kimberly, Polokwane, and Nelspruit.

Economic and Consumer Considerations

Adapt to Economic Conditions

  • Develop flexible financing options to make new vehicles more accessible to consumers. This is to address high lending rates, inflation, and lower household income affecting vehicle affordability.

Respond to Market Trends

  • Stay agile in response to economic uncertainties
  • Monitor and adapt to changing consumer behavior and preferences.

Infrastructure and Technology

Invest in Technology

  • Enhance dealership technology for better customer service and operational efficiency.
  • Implement digital sales platforms to reach a broader audience.

Focus on Green Initiatives

  • Promote and support the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Develop infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations.

Policy and Collaboration

Engage with Policymakers

  • Collaborate with government to create favorable policies for the automotive industry.
  • Advocate for incentives that support vehicle purchases and dealership expansions.

Strengthen Industry Collaboration

  • Foster partnerships with local businesses and international automotive brands.
  • Encourage knowledge sharing and innovation within the industry.

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