27 January 2016
African motoring is stepping up its game in the competitive but profitable
automotive industry, giving the Germans, Indians and Chinese leaders in vehicle
design and manufacturing some competition in local markets. But they are also
creating wholly locally sourced vehicles that can compete on the international
Much like South African-born Elon Musk is changing the game with Tesla Motors
and its revolutionary electric motor innovation, South African motor manufacturing,
be it luxury, commercial or concept and performance vehicles, is always a little
different and ahead of its time.
Here are eight of the best African car manufacturers:
Founded in 1980 and based in Durban, Birkin Cars is best known for its quality
reproductions of the Lotus 7 Series 3, called the Birkin S3. The company exports
locally manufactured Lotus and other limited-edition performance car replicas
around the world.
The legendary "Libyan rocket" was fast, luxurious and safe. Designed especially
for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1999, the car, wholly built in Libya,
was the country's pride and joy, pitted against the German luxury car market
Unfortunately, it never went into full-time production, yet it was a prime
example of inventive North African design. Designers claimed it to be one of the
safest cars ever made, comparable to Volvo and Saab. It had some innovative
including the ability to drive for miles on flat tyres – making it
perfect for desert conditions – and a full electronic safety system with airbags. In
fact, it was one of the first cars to have airbags for all four seats.
Laraki, a car manufacturer based in Casablanca, is owned by Moroccan luxury
yacht designer Abdeslam Laraki. The company designed and manufactured its own
range of luxury performance cars and sport models, including the Borac; the V8,
1 750 horsepower Epitome, the only officially recognised African-made
supercar; and the Fulgura, which embodies a Lamborghini in look and spirit.
Larakis are strictly concept cars, custom-built for each customer, and were
ranked among the most expensive cars in the world in 2015, priced at over $2-
million (about R33-million) each.
Advanced Automotive Design, South Africa
Automotive Design makes racing-style sports cars and has
been in business since 1995. The company is famous in motoring circles for its 2007
Shaka Nynya, named after the Zulu king. It has impressed drivers with its
versatility and speed.
constructeur automobile en Tunisie s’apprête à commercialiser sa première voiture
100% tunisienne. pic.twitter.com/Jt1klquu2C
Competing in the lucrative off-road market, the small but powerful Wallyscar,
manufactured in La Marsa,
Tunisia, is a relatively new company, founded in 2006.
The company is building a strong reputation for affordable, reliable and powerful
4X4s, despite the size of its vehicles, which are similar to Suzuki and Skoda.
According to reports from 2014, the company sells over 600 units a year,
predominately in Africa and the Middle East, but also as far as Panama and Europe.
The company's plans include making its sporty, colourful, off-road vehicles more
environmentally friendly, as well as trying its luck in international off-road
Started in 2003 by brothers Peter and Greg Bailey, Bailey Edwards is a top
replica sports car manufacturer based in South Africa. The group builds and
customises classic performance cars such as the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari P4 for
clients around the world. It has a factory in New York to service the North American
Its signature replica is the Ford GT40 that has raced in both national and
international racing tournaments. The company has even restored an Aston Martin
DB6, familiar as the classic James Bond car and much sought-after by collectors
around the world.
The Kiira EV is the first African-made hybrid electronic vehicle; it was launched
in 2014. Still not available commercially, the car began as a group design project by
engineering students at the University of Makerere. The Ugandan government has
invested $40-million in the project, to create an affordable hybrid for the African
market and turn Uganda into a hub of the automotive industry for East Africa.
With a factory in Kampala slowly developing various sedan, off-road and urban
variations, the company hopes to go into full production by 2018, employing
10 000 people and making 300 vehicles a year.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing makes affordable, high quality and locally
sourced passenger sedans in a
factory in Nigeria's Anambra state. The company's
newest Fox sedan, released in 2015, has been declared "a reference point in the
success story of the Nigerian automotive industry" by Nigeria's ministry of trade
From humble beginnings as a bus manufacturer, the makers of the country's
ubiquitous Uzo minibus taxi, is now planning to go global with interest from
potential Japanese and German partners.
African car makers have created some interesting and versatile vehicles over the years. Today, designers and manufacturers across the continent are creating quality, affordable vehicles for the local consumer market and beyond. (Image: Pixabay)