South Africa is set for big growth in electric vehicle (EV) adoption as more manufacturers bring models into the country, charging infrastructure expands, and international markets demand electric cars from local manufacturing plants.
This is the view of Greg Blandford, director of energy and e-mobility at sustainable energy company Rubicon Group. he sales figures for electric cars in South Africa have been dismal when compared to petrol and diesel vehicles. Of the nearly 917,000 cars sold in South Africa in 2019 and 2020, only 246 were electric.
However, there appears to be much greater interest in EVs among local car buyers this year. Volvo sold out its initial allocation of 15 Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge units just four days after it launched in South Africa in mid-May. That equates to around 10% of the total EVs sold in the more normal year of 2019.
Recent research from automotive classifieds site Auto Trader also showed that 68.31% of South Africans were likely to purchase an electric car in the future.
In addition, over 285,000 Auto Trader searches were conducted for used electric cars in the first six months of 2021, an increase of over 64% from the period before. Rubicon has partnered with Audi to install at least eight of its electric charging stations in South Africa in anticipation of the company’s e-Tron SUV launching locally in the first quarter of 2022.
Audi will become the seventh major brand to bring fully-electric vehicles to the country, following Nissan, BMW, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mini, Porsche, and Volvo.
Ford, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen are also launching electric vehicles in South Africa in the next few years. Rubicon is perhaps better known as the official distributor of the Powerwall and Wall Connector from EV heavyweight Tesla.
The company also imported the first Tesla Model X to South Africa as part of a demonstration on e-mobility and Rubicon’s charging infrastructure.
Blandford said while he believes the company will bring its EVs to the country, this should only be in about three or four years’ time. Blandford told MyBroadband one of the biggest stumbling blocks for increased adoption of electric vehicles in South Africa is sufficient electric charging infrastructure.
“The major fuel groups in the country are already looking at deploying EV charging infrastructure in their forecourts,” he said. Although there were about 900 electric chargers in the country at the moment, comprising both slower AC and fast DC chargers, Eskom’s stability has many people questioning their feasibility.
“The tricky part is the charging infrastructure for city environments, for DC chargers specifically, that is going to put the most strain on our grid,” Blandford said. This could be addressed by adding batteries for energy storage and solar for power generation at these charging stations.
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