As the world is rapidly shifting towards electric vehicles (EVs), Volkswagen (VW) is leading the charge to bring this revolution to South Africa. In a recent conversation with Martina Biene CEO of Volkswagen South Africa, we discussed the company’s plans to introduce EVs in the country.
Retooling existing plants for EVs
One of the main questions asked was whether a plant needs to be rebuilt from scratch to manufacture EVs. The answer is that it is possible to retool existing plants, which is a more efficient and cost-effective solution. VW is exploring partnerships to manufacture EVs globally, including in South Africa in order to build an EV that has global appeal.
Solving local challenges and solutions
While bringing EVs to the market is commendable, there are several challenges that still must be addressed. One of the significant obstacles is changing customer behaviour and building public charging infrastructure. VW is working on solutions for these issues and has already introduced several charging stations across the country. The company is also focusing on reducing the CO2 footprint of the entire supply chain to ensure that Electric vehicles are not just eco-friendly on the road but also during the production process.
Load shedding and consistent power
Another challenge in South Africa is loadshedding, which currently causes disruptions in the production of internal combustion (ICE) vehicles. To avoid this, VW are exploring various solutions like the Green Hydrogen solution from the government, wind wheeling and investment in solar panels to ensure consistent power for ICE production – all of which have made car production very unstable
VW is also investigating energy storage solutions which as part of the testing phase have invested in their first flex-port charger on the plant. This kind of charger could store energy for up to 48 hours and constantly charge EVs during that time or even fully run a complex fully.
VWs goal is to sell 50,000 EVs by 2035
Despite these challenges, VW remains committed to bringing EVs to South Africa. Their goal is to sell 50,000 EVs in the country by 2035. To achieve this target, VW is continuously investing in research and development, building partnerships, and expanding the charging infrastructure.
As the future of mobility is electric, Martina believes that electric vehicles will play a significant role in shaping the future of transportation in South Africa. VW are excited to lead this change and bring sustainable, eco-friendly, and affordable mobility solutions to consumers.
Volkswagen is committed to driving the EV revolution in South Africa by retooling existing plants, building public charging infrastructure, and contributing to reducing the CO2 footprint of the supply chain. The automotive industry is optimistic about the future and excited to play a leading role in the transition to a more sustainable transportation system.