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Along with the rest of the world, Africa is embracing technological advancement. The automotive industry is fast becoming a major player in economic development, environmental sustainability and job creation. Since the 1980s, African automakers have been pushing the boundaries of design and creating innovative, high-quality cars and vehicles for the African consumer. With several automakers establishing themselves in the industry, you will see African cars significantly impacting the global automotive industry.
An Overview of the African Car Industry
In 2021, the value of the automotive industry in Africa came up to $30 billion and is predicted to grow to almost $43 billion by 2027. Although these numbers primarily reflect Africa’s capacity as an importer of vehicles and parts, they also speak to developing technologies and exports from the continent. Currently, South Africa and Morrocco are the largest exporters on the continent. They are also two of the countries that have produced high-end luxury cars.
The most significant driving force behind the growth of African cars is the demand for uniquely African and culturally relevant products. The second driving force is the need for sustainable transportation. For example, Ugandan automaker Kiira has been producing fully electric buses and built the first hybrid electric car in East Africa. This signals the turn to electronic vehicles in Africa, which will continue to gain traction in the next few years.
Top 8 African Cars
You may have seen these cars on Youtube or heard of the Roadster and Perana Z-One, touted as unique collector’s vehicles. Here are some of the cars making waves in the automotive industry:
Birkin S3 Roadster
The South African luxury car is a handcrafted supercar that draws on the Lotus Super 7 for performance and design. It boasts a turbocharged engine with that produces superior power and torque to deliver quick acceleration and precision on the road. The classic roadster look is in the open-top, comfortable bucket seats and minimalist instrumentation. The focus is on the thrilling drive experience, which makes sense considering the founder and owner, John Watson, is a direct descendant of British racing driver Tim Birkin.
This South African luxury sports car is perfect for performance-driven car enthusiasts. It’s powered by a V8 engine that delivers speed and power while allowing for sharp handling and quick acceleration. When you look at it you see a powerful and athletic car, thanks to it’s striking long hood, low roofline and muscular fenders.
Piranha Performance Group made the car in collaboration with Zagato, a Milanese Coachbuilder that designs collector cars. The Z-One exemplifies the Zagato styling heritage: “simple, light and aerodynamic”. The interior features leather seating, a classic sports steering wheel and premium materials.
Ghanian automaker Katanka Automobile Company Limited prides itself in creating vehicles that blend modern design with African culture and heritage. The Mensah is an affordable luxury car built to withstand extreme weather conditions. It has a fully automatic air conditioner, a 6-way power heating system in the leather seats, and an anti-pinch sunroof with two modes.
The Mensah is powered by V6 engine for fuel efficiency and has an independent wheel suspension system. It’s the perfect car for drivers who like to entertain. It has premium leather upholstery, a 6-speaker acoustic system and ample luggage space, perfect for road trips.
This luxury high-performance sports car has been called a masterpiece of automotive engineering, with its V8 engine and 1000 horsepower capabilities. It has an aerodynamic design features sharp lines, a low-slung profile and wide fenders that scream exclusivity. When Laraki announced the show car, only nine cars were up for production. However, only one was seen and remains the only version of the show car.
Kiira EV Smack
The Smack was East Africa’s first hybrid electronic car, representing the future of Africa’s sustainable mobility.
The car runs on a high voltage battery and an 1.8cc hybrid petrol engine. You can drive the car without the engine when the battery is full. When the battery runs low, the engine will switch on to keep the car moving. The key-less car uses push-to-start technology and you can unlock it using a card with a sensor that opens the doors. When the automaker designed the car, they aded the crested crane – the national symbol of Uganda– to the rims and steerig wheel.
The A7 is one of Nord Automobile’s flagship models. Featuring a sleek, aerodynamic design that could give a G-Wagon a run for it’s money, it also has a refined, customizable interior. In fact, the car is fully customizable. You can choose your engine type, between manual or automatic transmission and four wheel types. The vehicle also comes in seven colors; you can choose fabric or leather seats. To top it off, you can select from four different entertainment systems and three maintenance options.
Mobius Motors was established in 2010 as an alternative to the second-hand cars dominating the East African automotive market. While the company uses design concepts to produce affordable vehicles, they are very efficient and have all standard features. Mobius 3 has a turbocharged engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission that delivers 160kW of power for a smooth drive. The best part about this car is it’s matching exterior and interior. The blue version has beautiful finishes like a diamond design door panel and matching dashboard. The vehiclewas made to travel various terrains while keeping passengers safe and drivers secure in their off-road handling. It has lightweight removable roof panels and split-fold back seats to accommodate extra luggage.
This luxury compact SUV has a retro-inspired design that blends versatility and style. It’s powered by a turbocharged engine to provide smooth performance with fuel efficiency. The car also has premium seating, a touchscreen infotainment system and a panoramic sunroof.
The Tunisian car manufacturer works closely with Peugeot for the engines and exports vehicles worldwide to France, Spain, Panama, Qatar and Morrocco. Currently, the Jeep-like Izis and Iris models are the most well-known of Wallyscars, but they have produced other cars like a small pickup truck.
What’s Next for Cars Built in Africa?
Although most are unknown globally, you will probably see these cars gaining popularity in the next few decades.