South Africa has several major car tracking companies that are not only successful locally, but have expanded across numerous foreign markets.
Vehicle theft is rife in South Africa, creating a lucrative opportunity for those with innovative tracking solutions.
Official police crime statistics show that 37,402 cars and motorcycles were stolen during the 2021/2022 financial year.
That excludes the 20,923 carjackings in the country during the same period — roughly 57 per day.
Certain car models have become such big targets that insurers demand their customers install more than one vehicle tracker.
The odds of recovering a stolen vehicle increase significantly if it is fitted with a high-quality tracking device.
Even if your insurer does not insist that you install one, a tracker can be helpful if you consider your car or another moveable asset a prized possession.
In addition to helping recover a stolen vehicle, you can also use the data collected by a tracker to keep track of distances travelled for tax rebates if your car is used for work.
Furthermore, many tracking services offer additional peace of mind with features that support emergency accident response and security services.
Below are six of the biggest and most trusted vehicle tracking brands currently operating in South Africa.
Beame and Matrix
JSE-listed company Mix Telematics, with a market capitalisation of R3.5 billion as of 14 April 2023, owns two vehicle tracking brands — Beame and Matrix.
Founded in South Africa as Matrix Vehicle Tracking in 1995, Mix Telematics has expanded its services to over 120 countries. Its latest data showed it actively managed 914,000 mobile assets.
Aside from South Africa, it has offices in the UK, US, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates, and employs more than 1,000 people.
It changed its name after merging with Omnibridge in 2007.
Its newer product — Beame — focuses on simplicity, affordability, and quick installation.
The Beame recovery device differs from many other units as it is fully wireless and self-powering. That enables easy fitment to various vehicles — including motorcycles, quad bikes, trailers, and caravans.
Subscribing to Beame directly through its website costs R142.22 per month over 36 months.
This price can be lower if taken out with an insurance policy.
The larger and more established service — Matrix — primarily focuses on fleet management solutions but also offers personal products for individual users.
Matrix boasts a much more extensive set of features than Beame, including a panic button, border alerts, crash notifications, and no-go zone warnings.
When signing up directly through Matrix, the cheapest plan on offer starts at R89 per month over 36 months.
Cartrack was founded in South Africa in 2004 and initially focused on stolen vehicle recovery solutions. By the following year, it had expanded into Mozambique.
It recorded exponential growth in the years that followed and launched fleet management products in 2007.
By 2011, it had expanded into Kenya, Namibia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Tanzania.
2014 was a big year, with its insurance telematics products launch, the start of operations in South East Asia, and listing on the JSE.
In 2016, it entered two more major markets — New Zealand and the US — putting its total country count at 24.
Cartrack’s holding company rebranded and relisted on the JSE as Karooooo in 2021. As of 14 April 2023, it had a market capitalisation of R12.24 billion.
Cartrack’s latest data also shows it had over 1.7 million customers.
These two factors make it the biggest vehicle tracking company in South Africa by market value and customers.
However, strictly speaking it is no longer a South African company as Karooooo’s headquarters is now in Singapore.
Cartrack does not list detailed product prices on its website — although it states that its entry-level stolen vehicle recovery package costs R99 per month over a minimum 36-month term.
Ctrack has over 35 years of experience in fleet and asset management systems and has an operating footprint across Africa.
The company was bought out by investment firm Convergence Partners for $26.2 million in February 2021, equal to roughly R393 million at the R15 per dollar exchange rate at the time.
While its primary products are aimed at businesses, Ctrack also offers personal vehicle tracking and stolen vehicle recovery services.
Two personal subscriptions are available — Backup/CME and Secure— which can be expanded with Advanced Protector/EVAC-24 for emergency response, roadside assistance, towing, home drive and crash guard services.
The basic Backup/CME plan provides stolen vehicle response across South Africa.
The Secure option adds web and app-based vehicle tracking, battery/system tampering alarms or early warnings, high G-force accident and rollover detection, trip reporting, and area management features.
Prices are available on a quotation basis.
Netstar is a subsidiary of the JSE-listed Allied Electronics Corporation, otherwise known as Altron. As of 14 April 2023, the company had a market capitalisation of R3.7 billion.
Altron operates in South Africa, Australia, India, and Malaysia and distributes its products in the rest of Africa.
Founded in 1994, Netstar has grown its customer base to over one million subscribers and aims to increase it to 2.5 million by 2025.
The company employs over 1,000 people, including 245 mobile technicians, and has roughly 50 fitment centres.
Netstar offers vehicle tracking and fleet management products for personal, business, and commercial use.
The most affordable Netstar personal product is Netstar Nano, which starts at R99 per month on a 36-month contract.
This package includes stolen vehicle recovery services, a wireless unit with 3-year battery life, an account management portal, and licence renewal alerts.
The flagship personal product — Netstar Early Warning — costs R199 per month and adds a panic button, auto-arm proximity tag, and tow-away alert feature, among others.
For all Toyota and Lexus models, Netstar’s tracking device offers Wi-Fi connectivity to the Internet.
Tracker was founded in 1996 and operates exclusively in South Africa. It has over a million customers, 1,500 staff, and 15 offices nationwide.
In February 2023 alone, the company helped recover 422 stolen vehicles and saw to the arrest of 17 car thieves.
In addition to vehicle tracking services for individuals and businesses, Tracker offers a personal safety product, the Tracker Smart Geyser, and insurance brokering services.
Tracker’s cheapest tracking plan for individuals — Tracker Response — is priced at R69 per month over 36 months but does not include stolen vehicle recovery.
Instead, users can track their vehicles via an app or online portal.
To get stolen vehicle recovery, you will have to pay at least R119 per month for Tracker Recover.
The company also offers value-added bolt-on services like towing and in-car valuables insurance.
Get South Africa’s latest entrepreneurial or business success stories delivered right to your inbox — Sign up to Entrepreneur Hub SA’s newsletter today