There are 1000 electric vehicles on SA roads

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The Nissan Leaf.
The Nissan Leaf.

The number of electric vehicle (EV) sales in SA has more than doubled over the last 18 months, influenced by development of infrastructure, new vehicles entering the market and government initiatives.

This is according to car insurance comparison site, which notes that there are currently about 1000 EVs on South African roads. The adoption of electric cars is bound to increase in the next few years as more public charging stations become available throughout the country.

“Analytics group Lightstone released a study showing that there were 375 electric vehicles that had been sold in SA by January 2018,” explains Cristian Rennella CEO of QuotesAdvisor.

“In March the former minister of transport, Blade Nzimande, updated that information and said that there are a total of 867 EVs registered in the country. This number has since increased, as a result of several trends that are currently taking place. While infrastructure is important to accelerate the adoption of EVs, a wide variety of electric cars available in the market and government intervention is also necessary.”

Around 1 000 EVs have been sold in SA to date – indicating a 167% increase since January 2018. However, the pace is much slower than in other parts of the globe.

In March, Jaguar Land Rover became the third vehicle company to introduce an EV range in SA, with the new Jaguar I-Pace. The first were Nissan Leaf, introduced in 2013 and BMW i3 which was introduced in 2015.

Gauteng accounts for half of EVs on the roads, while in Western Cape there are 252. The rest is made up by the country’s remaining provinces with fewer than 100 vehicles in each of them, notes Rennella.

Research firm TrendForce predicts in the Global Automotive Market Decode for 1Q report that electric vehicle shipments will reach 5.15 million in 2019, representing year-on-year growth of 28%.

In 2018, around 1.6M EVs were sold in the US, Europe and China collectively, with more electric cars sold in China than in the rest of the world combined.

This year, there will be over 20 new fully electric models introduced in Europe, including Kia, Jaguar, Hyundai and VW.

The UK government has stipulated that 60% of all cars and small vans need to be electric vehicles by 2032 and completely carbon-free by 2035.

Independent motor vehicle expert and radio commentator Nico Smit told ITWeb recently that while the local EV market is lagging behind global counterparts, it will see moderate growth over the next two years.

"The SA electric vehicle market is not a big one, with limited offerings; it is probably not as exciting as other markets which have a wide variety of brands. With the newly launched Jaguar I-Pace, and other manufacturers expected to launch next year, like the Audi E-tron and the Mercedes Benz EQC, we can anticipate an uptake as more buyers become interested in owning an EV.”

Charging infrastructure

Jaguar Land Rover has partnered with electric vehicle charging infrastructure firm, GridCars, to build public charging stations across SA's frequently-travelled routes. The company has invested R30 million in building public charging points, the ‘Jaguar Powerway’.

There are currently over 90 EV charging stations in Gauteng.

BMW has 57 ChargeNow charging stations in SA, six of which are shared with Nissan. The two companies have collaborated, with hopes to expand the base by adding an additional 30 ChargeNow stations to the South African charging network by the end of this year.

“As more charging stations are located along national routes, the adoption of electric transportation is bound to increase,” notes Rennella.

“SA’s city centres will soon be connected by a series of charging stations along the N3 between Gauteng and Durban and the N1 between Gauteng and Cape Town. Cape Town will also be connected to the Garden Route with more charging stations along the N2 all the way to East London.”

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers is working with other vehicle manufacturers to find common standards in electric vehicles, to enable standardisation of certain EV charging equipment to be used across all electric vehicle brands.

Government initiatives

Having government programmes and funding injected into the sector will increase the convenience of having an EV and it will trigger sales in SA, notes QuotesAdvisor.

In August 2017, the Department of Transport introduced Green Transport Strategy 2018-2050, aimed at promoting cleaner mobility in SA. It is the first national policy document promoting EV adoption in the country. This year the Automotive Production and Development Programme was also introduced by government.

“Whereas the Automotive Production and Development Programme seeks to open up discussions related to EV imports and more infrastructure developments, the Green Transport Strategy 2018-2050 outlines efforts to contribute towards a 5% reduction of emissions in the transport sector by 2050,” explains Rennella.

In addition the uYilo eMobility Technology Innovation Programme, run by the Technology Innovation Agency, says it has invested millions of rands in support of local public charging infrastructure technologies, through its uYilo Kick-Start Fund.

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