The future of Electric Vehicles in South Africa can go many ways in the near term. OEM’s like Ford South Africa confirm that car buyers are more than ready for Electric Vehicles (EVs). This is further backed by AutoTrader’s 2020 EV Buyers Survey study. Naysayers will without fail mention Eskom. Load shedding and not having enough EV infrastructure in the country. This makes questions like:

  • How are we going to charge our electric cars?
  • Do we have enough infrastructure to meet the demand?

become the main topics around a braai. I recently caught up with Managing Director: Ford Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa, Neale Hill to understand things from an OEM’s perspective. What is their view on the Electric Vehicle infrastructure in South Africa. And to address how vital it is that OEM’s invest in driving Electric Vehicle adoption especially in South Africa.

Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure exists in South Africa

It’s a little known fact that Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure already exists in South Africa. Something a lot of people are not aware of. We’ve seen pioneering OEM’s helping to drive the electric vehicle revolution in South Africa. Companies like GridCars, working tirelessly to bring us charging infrastructure.

South Africa has 1 charging station for every 6 Electric Vehicles in South Africa. Whereas, internationally there is 1 charging station for every 20 Electric Vehicles. It’s evident that South Africa is already ahead of our international counterparts. Albeit with low numbers of EVs on our roads.

How far apart are EV charging stations in South Africa?

South Africa has EV charging stations every 200km along major highways like Johannesburg and Cape Town – further proof that the anxiety of driving long distances is not really cause for concern in South Africa, even now.

OEM’s support charging infrastructure development for

Electric Vehicle buyers

It’s very encouraging to see OEM’s like Ford supporting charging infrastructure development for Electric Vehicle buyers around the world. Neale mentioned that Ford is continuously evolving and adapting their vehicle technology to be fully automated as we’ve seen in the recently launched Ford Ranger series that helps customers derive the best experience out of their vehicles.

I got excited when Neale mentioned that this technology will further be adapted for Electric Vehicles to include the ability for Ford drivers to get notifications of where the nearest charging point would be at a Ford dealership. Meaning as consumers drive these vehicles, the vehicle will be constantly evaluating as consumers drive.

There’s no lack of demand of Electric Vehicles in South Africa

When AutoTrader released South Africa’s first Electric Vehicle Buyers Survey last year, there definitely isn’t a lack of demand of Electric Vehicles in South Africa – consumers want to drive to them! We’re holding them up.

Consumers told us that their ideal Electric Vehicle::

  • costs less than R500 000
  • is able to charge within 12 hours at home
  • is able to fast charge in just a few hours

If the above are possible, they would be open to buying an electric vehicle within the next three years.

OEM’s will prioritise experience for future Electric Vehicles car buyers

The Electric Vehicle Buyers Survey AutoTrader ran last year, showed a gap in consumer education. OEM’s like Ford Motor Company will prioritise providing experiences for future Electric Vehicle car buyers.

While Ford operates in South Africa, Neale acknowledges that being part of a global organisation has its perks. One of them being the ability to learn from the mistakes from other countries. He noted that they have already seen how educating car buyers addresses some key perceptions that exist surrounding Electric Vehicles (EVs). Examples like range anxiety and charging infrastructure penetration would need to be overcome.

It’s comforting to see how quickly some South African companies are switching to using alternative and renewable energy sources for electricity. Ford recently announcing a massive investment in using a combination of solar bio gas for their Silverton Assembly plant by 2024.

It’s clear that at the end of the day, providing the right experience offers the opportunity to educate consumers and change overall perceptions of Electric Vehicles.

Government needs to relook incentives and taxes

The elephant in the room – government incentives and taxes; government needs to relook incentives and taxes to make Electric Vehicles more accessible to the average car buyer. OEMs agree!

Neale confirms that OEM’s around South Africa along with the Minister of Transport are engaging in conversations that could prove fruitful for the South African economy and the automotive industry combined. The automotive industry contributes approximately 7% to South Africa’s GDP, and as a result, makes these kinds of conversations very delicate but highly necessary.

My hope is that the government introduces larger incentives for Electric Vehicles manufacture, incentivising OEMs to re-tool ICE plants in South Africa.

Norway is the classic example of what is achievable, all we need to do is copy paste.