Electric vehicles (EVs) are no longer a futuristic dream but a tangible reality, reshaping the automotive industry. Recently, at the Smarter Mobility Africa event, we had the privilege of hosting a panel discussion with top executives from leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). These industry giants shared their insights into the immediate future of electric cars and how their organisations are navigating this electrifying journey.

The panel consisted of:

Neale  Hill is the president of Ford Motor Company Africa.

Andrew Kirby is the president and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors.

Mark Raine is the Co-CEO and executive director of Mercedes Benz South Africa.

Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Winstone Jordaan, Managing Director of GridCars.

Ford: Embracing Vertical Integration for EV Success

Neale  Hill, President of Ford Motor Company Africa, highlighted the importance of understanding the EV value chain. He drew parallels to Ford’s history, where Henry Ford’s Model T revolutionised manufacturing through vertical integration. Today, Ford aims to control the battery chemistry, secure mineral sources, and invest in battery production to meet ambitious global delivery goals.

Toyota: A Multi-Technology Approach

Andrew Kirby, CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors, discussed Toyota’s approach, which includes hybrid and hydrogen vehicles alongside battery electric vehicles. Toyota recognises the need for rapid carbon footprint reduction but also faces challenges like battery shortages and the need for sustainable manufacturing processes.

Mercedes-Benz: Diverse EV Options and Charging Convenience

Mark Raine, Co-CEO and Executive Director of Mercedes Benz South Africa emphasised the importance of offering consumers a diverse range of electric vehicle options. Mercedes has launched six EQ models in South Africa, focusing on availability and charging infrastructure. They provide a free home charger installation with every EQ vehicle, aiming to make electric mobility accessible and convenient for customers.

BMW: Investing in Electrification

Peter van Binsbergen from BMW Group South Africa shared BMW’s significant investment of R4.2 billion in their Rosslyn plant to produce the next generation X3 SUV, including plug-in hybrid variants. BMW recognises the need to transition to electric manufacturing, aligning with global trends as markets shift toward electric vehicles.

GridCars: Charging Infrastructure and Customer Experience

Winstone Jordaan,  Managing Director of GridCars, tackled the crucial aspect of charging infrastructure. He assured us that there were enough chargers in major cities and along major highways. However, the key challenge lies in educating customers and ensuring they feel comfortable with the electric car experience, not just expanding the charging network.


In conclusion, the panel discussion at the Smarter Mobility Africa event offered a glimpse into the diverse strategies OEMs are adopting to embrace the electric vehicle revolution. While each company has its unique approach, the shared goal is a sustainable, electric future. Overcoming challenges such as expanding charging infrastructure and educating consumers will require innovation and collaboration. As the automotive industry evolves on this electrifying journey, one thing is clear: the future of electric cars is here to stay.