The revolution of electric cars in South Africa is starting will contribute not only to our GDP through the automotive sector. But also to our education sector as more and more demand rises for these electric cars.

The automotive industry has enjoyed strong growth in vehicle manufacture and sales over the last decade, but all based on old ICE technology. But we risk losing it all because development, manufacturing, government incentives to drive demand as well as charging infrastructure development is slow.

If we fall behind on particularly, charging infrastructure, we will have an influx of electric vehicles parked nose to tail at charging stations in South Africa, frustrating and potentially hurting demand.

I recently travelled through Kroonstad where I was the only battery-electric vehicle arriving to be charged. Not only is Kroonstad not an ideal place to charge given the speed of the charger. But the EV charger at Kroonstad is not situated in an ideal place as a destination that invited me to stop for 2 hours.

Our economic challenges to adopting electric cars

Our economy is still under pressure due to Covid-19 which has brought about some challenges that put downward pressure on the adoption of electric cars. 

  • The European deadline has not shifted back but in fact, has come forward (The UK initially said 2040 which now looks more like 2030) These deadlines are moving closer to home and South Africa needs to move quickly.
  • Lack of understanding of how to live with a battery-electric vehicle in South Africa. Living with my Jaguar I-Pace has allowed me to learn more about electric cars that I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t have it. Follow me on Instagram and watch my day-to-day journey with my battery electric car.
  • OEM manufacturing and technicians, in fact, this extends to the wider auto industry (dealerships, salespeople, etc) also, are not yet fully equipped & trained to build & support electric cars in South Africa.

While these challenges exist, the demand for electric cars is growing. AutoTrader SA has seen a +200% increase in searches for electric cars in the past year alone.

The new stark reality for electric cars

The supply of electric cars to South Africa is seriously lacking, the reason I say this is because there are only a handful of electric cars in the South African market at the moment. 

  1. BMW i3
  2. BMW iX40
  3. Mini Cooper SE
  4. Jaguar i-Pace
  5. Porsche Taycan Base Model
  6. Volvo XC40 Recharge
  7. Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
  8. Audi e-tron Sportback
  9. Audi e-Tron RS GT

Not only is the supply lacking, but all these electric cars in South Africa are also priced close to or over the R1m mark, which is the biggest barrier to consumer adoption. We need to get prices on average down below R500k

AutoTrader SA has seen a 211% increase in searches which includes rising searches for vehicles like the MINI SE.

There is an instant spike in searches on the Autotrader SA website when there is a new supply of electric cars, or launches by OEMs, which is encouraging. There has to be supplied because there is a demand for it. 

Positive outcomes when adopting electric cars

There are however some battery electric cars positive signs in the recent past

  • A significant amount of investment into manufacturing electric cars from companies such as Ford, Toyota, and Jaguar in South Africa. If OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) didn’t believe in our country, they wouldn’t be putting investing. 
  • The release of the Green paper by the government in 2021. 
  • South Africa is referencing and analysing successful models from places like Norway.

How to move the electric car adoption forward

The sure-fire way to move the needle on electric car adoption is by putting bums in seats. We need South Africans to experience electric cars first-hand while, at the same time as an industry, we are educating them about the benefits of electric battery cars.