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Locally built and proud of it - 5 top-selling utility vehicles in SA

2017-09-25 09:00

Lance Branquinho

Image: Warren Wilson

South Africa - On a continent where most roads aren’t tarred and satnav often runs out of routing ideas, Mzansi is the proud petrolhead anchor of Africa.

Proud heritage

We’ve produced great racing champions, our own cars and even today, South Africa is a notable manufacturer of vehicles for global export – regarded for quality standards. 

READ: SA Car of the Year: How good are the finalists really?

Considering that heritage, exactly which are our most proudly local buys? We list five big-selling utility vehicles which are locally built. 

Check it out:

Toyota Hilux - 23 319

A South African institution for nearly five decades and the bakkie which can quite rightly claim to have built our local economy. Pressure from South African product planners ensure that the eight-generation Hilux was not merely a seventh-generation frame with some trick infotainment. An all-new design was necessary to counter the competition raised by a rampant Ranger and Toyota has built more of these in their Durban facility this year than any rival. The Dakar V8 competition version is South Africa’s greatest locally-produced racing vehicle too, racing with distinction - globally. 

Ford Ranger  - 21 880

Yes, it was designed and engineered in Australia but each Ranger you see on the road in South Africa is built in Silverton, outside the capital. The bakkie which has made Ford a highly profitable business in South Africa, Ranger tallies an immense range (36 derivatives and counting) to ensure that everyone, from the mining captain to mountain biking urbanite, has a Ranger suited to their requirements. Neil Woolridge motorsport, based in Pietermaritzburg, also produce a globally competitive V8 powered racing version of the Ranger bakkie, which has been keenly exported to various markets. 

Toyota Quantum  - 10 223

Many thought the Hi-Ace could never be replaced but Quantum did that, with amazing success. The vehicle is effectively South Africa’s public transport policy. These locally built Toyotas transport more of us where we need to go, each day, than any other. Virtually indestructible, Toyota’s unassailable reputation for reliability in the local market has been deeply entrenched in the public conscience by Quantum. And no, you can’t get them in any other colour than white, other than ivory metallic – which to us looks almost exactly the same. 

Isuzu KB  - 9015

Another locally built bakkie in yet another coastal location, Port Elizabeth has been home to Isuzu production for four decades. The KB280 revolutionised South Africa’s bakkie market when it debuted in the mid-1990s, proving that bakkies could be repurposed as leisure family vehicles. Before KB280 the notion of a lifestyle turbodiesel bakkie was unimageable. In 2017 the brand confirmed its commitment to the local market, after a joint venture arrangement with Chevrolet was ended, due to the latter entity ceasing its presence in the local market. By 2018 it will become the first fully independent bakkie brand in South Africa, retailing through dealers specialising only in bakkie servicing and accessories. 

Nissan NP300 -  8849

The unofficial tow-trucking vehicle of South Africa, NP300s are still produced at Nissan’s Rosslyn factory. Although most South African’s will forever associate these bakkies with their original Hardbody name, the NP300 fulfilled a crucial requirement or those companies and individuals who require an exceptionally rugged, if slightly unsophisticated, bakkie to get the work done – instead of having fun. Still going strong nearly 30 years later. As a competition bakkie, South Africa’s locally evolved NP300 Dakar double-cab was a strong contender in the world’s toughest desert race and the debut entry of our only Dakar winner, Giniel de Villiers, in 2003.

Read more on:    isuzu  |  toyota  |  ford  |  nissan  |  south africa  |  cars  |  heritage day  |  bakkies

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