NEV Committee explores ways to lower cost of e-vehicles

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga
Johannesburg, 14 Dec 2023
Mikel Mabasa, CEO of National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.
Mikel Mabasa, CEO of National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.

The New Energy Vehicle (NEV) Committee, the advisory arm of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), says it is making inroads in preparing SA for the transition to NEVs.

The committee was established at the beginning of this year, with the key priority of creating pathways for NEV policy transformation. It comprises automotive company and original equipment manufacturer representatives.

During an interview with ITWeb, Mikel Mabasa, CEO ofNAAMSA, said the NEV Committee has achieved several milestones since inception.

These include conducting comprehensive research into SA’s automotive skills base, understanding the realities of original equipment manufacturing for the NEV industry through stakeholder engagements, and exploring sustainable ways to lower the cost of NEV ownership for South African consumers.

This, after cabinet approved the draft white paper on NEVs earlier this month, moving a step closer to introducing the NEV policy.

“We've done a lot of work to lobby, canvass and present to government what we see as solutions to barriers to the transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to NEVs because, if we wait for government to provide all the solutions, it will take much longer.

“The committee has been working hard to see what we can do to stimulate consumer demand. One of the things we are looking at is finding out if it would be possible for us to produce a car locally without a battery pack. This would go a long way in lowering the cost of a NEV,” explains Mabasa.

Part of SA’s broader strategy includes locally manufacturing NEVs, and developing battery production capacity is a major part of this.

Among the factors that contribute to the high costs of NEVs is the battery, which is one of the most expensive components of a NEV, he adds.

According to Mabasa, various ways of intervention in this area include the option of NEV battery rental, a new concept introduced by China.

Other alternatives include locally-manufactured self-charging hybrid vehicles, or exploring ways of manufacturing solar-powered NEVs.

“If it is possible to buy an electric vehicle without a battery, this will significantly reduce the price of the vehicle, therefore promoting access to these vehicles. Technology is improving very quickly and we are seeing a lot of innovations in this space, and a number of companies are coming up with interesting ways of charging these batteries,” Mabasa points out.

The NEV Committee has also been engaging the mining industry to find out what minerals are available locally and how it can work with them to accelerate the process of researching the various minerals for the manufacturing of EV battery technology.

“We are pleased about where we are in that process because we now know that in SA, we have six minerals out of the 10 that are required in the battery manufacturing process. And those six that we have are not in small deposits, they are available in massive deposits.”

The committee has also been working on a comprehensive skills study, started 12 months ago, to determine SA’s e-mobility skills landscape and establish what skills will be required to adequately prepare for the transition.

“Now that we know exactly what skills and occupations we have and what skills of the future we are lacking, we have articulated this in the report. We have also established what type of skills are being phased out and will become totally irrelevant in the next five years,” says Mabasa.

The full report is expected to be published on the NAAMSA website before the end of the year.