Ford Motor Co., which has dealerships in 24 sub-Saharan African countries, said business has surged in the past five years with South African sales leading the way, according to a report in Nasdaq.com.
Vehicle sales in Africa grew 5 percent from 2011 to 2012 and South Africa accounted for about 40 percent of sales, according to the National Association of Automobiles Manufacturers of South Africa.
Ford sells around 60,000 vehicles annually in South Africa. In 2012, it sold 13,000 vehicles in sub-Saharan Africa, not including South Africa. That’s up from just 1,000 vehicles in 2002.
“That’s significant growth, albeit off a low base,” said Jeffrey Nemeth, president of Ford Southern Africa. “I don’t see it slowing down. If anything, I see it accelerating.”
The continent is still way behind other major markets. Africans bought an estimated 1.5 million vehicles in 2012 compared with 19.3 million in China and 14.8 million in the U.S.
The number of Africans with disposable income to buy cars is expected to increase in the next five to 10 years.
Ford has primarily focused on Southern Africa for growth. “We didn’t have (the rest of) Africa on our radar,” said Dave Schoch, president of the Asia Pacific region. (Major growth) won’t be right around the corner…but its time will come.”
Building investor confidence will be key to the region’s economic growth, he said. The outcome of South African wage negotiations under way in the auto industry will be important.
“South Africa must remain competitive on an export basis,” Schoch said. “That will be key to growth in the rest of Africa.”