Jaguar Land Rover readies e-vehicle rollout in SA

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The Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
The Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

Jaguar Land Rover has invested heavily in the imminent rollout of its electric vehicle range in SA.

The British multinational automotive company has revealed plans to unveil its all-electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace, and its first zero-emission plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) Range Rover range in March locally.

The new vehicle range, launched globally a few months ago, has a battery management system, semi-autonomous features, regenerative breaking, an infotainment system and light-emitting diode headlights, depending on the model.

Speaking at a media conference last week, Brian Hastie, network director and electrification project lead for Jaguar Land Rover SA, explained the local rollout is in line with the company's global strategy to introduce electrification functions across all its new vehicles by 2020.

"While the rollout of the electric range may differ from country to country, in SA we have invested heavily in the launch. I'm not in a position to reveal the overall cost of the project, but I can say that we have invested R30 million in building public charging points and in the infrastructure that will allow our drivers to drive through very long trips throughout the county.

"In addition, we have created advanced training programmes to up-skill our technicians and sales consultants throughout the country. There is a lot of work involved with rolling out electric cars from a people capability and an infrastructure point of view," he explained.

Once the first batch of technician trainees complete successfully, they will receive an electric vehicle certification and be deployed in every Jaguar Land Rover branch in the country.

Jaguar Land Rover is the third vehicle company to introduce an electric vehicle range locally. The Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 have been around for a number of years.

The Jaguar I-Pace SUV will be available in three trim grades, including S (R1 687 200), SE (R1 745 400) and HSE (R1 820 900), while the Range Rover PHEV will start at R1 639 300.

The vehicles are all built and imported from multiple factory plants in Austria and the UK.

The Jaguar I-PACE comes to SA in March.
The Jaguar I-PACE comes to SA in March.

Public charging network

Jaguar Land Rover has partnered with electric vehicle charging authority GridCars, to build public charging stations across SA's frequently-travelled routes.

Janico Dannhauser, product and pricing manager for Jaguar Land Rover SA and Sub-Saharan Africa, told ITWeb the initial deployment of public charging stations aims to cover places as wide as possible in all the county's major cities: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein.

"The public charging points and infrastructure will allow our drivers to be able to drive through very long trips; for example, through Johannesburg to Cape Town and from Johannesburg to Durban and then from there to Pietermaritzburg.

"In addition, we are ensuring every Jaguar Land Rover dealership in SA will have a charging station. With an already existing station at the Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, we are also looking to partner with more malls and filling stations, as well as other public places of convenience."

While the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 have a 135km range on a 100% charge, the I-Pace has a range of up to 470km, which is more than enough to cover the average weekly commute of 300km. The Range Rover PHEV has a range of up to 48km, when using the electric motor capability only, notes Dannhauser.

"As a member of the motor vehicle body, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers, Jaguar Land Rover is constantly working with other vehicle manufacturers to try and find common standards in electric vehicles, to ensure we standardise certain things to be used across all electric vehicle brands.

"For instance, all electric cars should be able to utilise the same charging plugs, the same repair centres, and in some instances the same services, in spite of the brand. Creating an ecosystem is key to making the local electric vehicle industry successful."

SA market readiness

When asked about the challenges of launching electric cars in a market with significant economic and social challenges, increasing power prices and power supply constraints, Hastie insists the South African market is ready for electric cars.

"While the overseas market is more mature, electric cars are still a fairly new product globally. Studies conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have found that electric car usage is very practical in SA and there is no reason why we cannot adopt electric cars as well as the rest of the world has.

"In fact, in some instances, we are better suited because an average suburban South African home has its own garage, whereas in overseas countries, curve-side parking is very common, making overnight charging difficult.

"In terms of electricity supply, the beauty of overnight charging of vehicles is that it is done when the power grid has low consumption. When comparing the price of fuel to that of electricity, fully charging an electric vehicle would be about a third of the price of filling up a petrol tank," concludes Hastie.

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