Trends of the Car Rental Industry

In South Africa, the car rental business is a major industry because it is directly benefits from the tourism industry, a major component in the country’s economy. At the onset of the car industry in the country, the main income earner was rental cars for touring South Africa. This is why major car rental companies set up shop and have managed to remain in business through the years.

In recent years, rental cars for touring have been challenged by business car rentals. Since 2012, the overall growth for car rental in the country has been the business car rentals.  The decline in rental cars for touring South Africa began to decline with the decline in the global economies and the increasing high cost of living in South Africa. Leisure car rentals are also seasonal revenue whereas business car rentals are a continuous source of revenue. As of 2012, business car rental account for 52% of the rental industry revenues while leisure car rentals account for 31%.

Car Rental and The South African Economy

Business experts in South Africa are predicting a slow but steady growth of 1% over the next 12 to 18 months. The major factor that will sustain the growth is the rising rates in renting a car whether for business or leisure caused by inflation and higher operational costs. Fortunately, South Africa continues to enjoy high visibility among international and regional tourists. The investment profile of the country is upbeat. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released its report on South Africa last year stating that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increased from an annual average of 8% between the periods of 2007 to 2010 to a 42.4% starting 2010.

Many of the top car rental companies based in South Africa are also becoming aggressive with their marketing especially over the Internet. There are more tie-ups with international travel retailers and airlines as well as with agencies in and around the region.

Renting A Car in South Africa

The advantages of renting a car in South Africa are:

  • Good road infrastructure in most provinces and all main roads
  • Easy to find car rental companies in and outside of the airports
  • There are many car rental companies that offer package rates that include insurance and GPS system. If, however, you’d prefer you own GPS, their are many listed at
  • Self-drive allows you the freedom of setting your own schedule and planning your day
  • Major credit cards are accepted

Basic Requirements for Car Rental

South Africa is no different than other countries when it comes to car rentals. You will need the following:

  • Valid driver’s license issued in South Africa or an international driver’s license with photo and signature
  • Travel documents in case you are pulled over by authorities
  • Insurance

Other Pertinent Information

Some of the important information you will need if you plan to rent a car in South Africa are:

  • Use of seat belts is compulsory
  • Drive on the left side ,  overtake on the right which means the left hand is used in operating  the gear shift
  • Distances are measured in kilometers
  • It is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving if you will hold it. It is acceptable to use it when you have a hands-free kit
  • The acceptable alcohol blood content for driving is 0.05% or one glass of wine for a woman and 1 ½ glass for a man
  • Speed limit is usually at 120 km/hr on main roads, 100 km/hr on secondary roads, and 60 km/hr on city roads. If you get caught speeding you will not only have to pay the fine but also an administrative fee from the car rental company

Finally, fuel in South Africa is sold as 97, 95, 93 octane, unleaded, and diesel. Most car rentals will require you to buy unleaded fuel but you should ask before you drive off.