Fuel economy in South Africa

This report is part of Global Fuel Economy Initiative 2021

Market profile and analysis of fuel consumption trends

Light-duty vehicle (LDV) sales have been decreasing since 2017 in South Africa, with 503 000 LDVs sold in 2019. Average fuel consumption of new LDVs decreased on average by 1.3% per year between 2005 and 2019 in South Africa. In 2019, average fuel consumption of LDVs reached 7.4 litres of gasoline equivalent per 100 kilometres, which is 2.8% above the global average. Differentiated vehicle registration taxes introduced in 2010 helped spur improvements in average fuel consumption.

With a sales share of 49% in 2019, SUVs/pick-up trucks dominate the LDV market in South Africa. The sales share of small SUVs/pick-up trucks increased from 12% in 2005 to 23% in 2019, while growth in the large SUV/pick-up truck segment has been more modest. Sales shares of city cars have remained strong at close to 33% of LDVs sold since 2014, while the market for large and medium cars has contracted significantly during this time. Despite the most substantial improvements in fuel economy occurring in the large car segment between 2005 and 2017, fuel consumption within this segment has increased on average by 3.6% per year from 2017 to 2019. Progress has also stalled for small SUVs/pick-up trucks and city cars.

The sales share of gasoline LDVs has been shrinking since 2005, which has been made up for by diesel sales shares growing to 35% in 2019. Minimal uptake of electric, plug-in and hybrid vehicle is apparent in South Africa, with a combined sales share of less than 1% in 2019.

Overview of current fuel economy policy

South Africa currently does not have fuel economy or CO2 emissions standards for LDVs. Instead, South Africa has imposed consumer fuel economy and CO2 emissions labeling since 2008 and a differentiated vehicle registration tax applied to vehicles with a CO2 emissions levels exceeding 120 g/km. Currently, there are no national level tax rebates, financial incentives or subisidies for purchases of electric vehicles, although incentives exist in select regions.