5 ways South Africa can get more Electric Vehicles on the road

By Battery Experts

Battery Experts, talks to Business Chief about the ways in which Africa can get more electric vehicles onto its roads.

Due to the global climate situation, many countries are implementing drastic changes in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions and keep the global temperature below 1.5°C. These changes include utilising more renewable energy, such as the use of electric vehicles rather than petrol or diesel-powered cars. Countries such as the UK, the US, China and Norway are showing signs of progression with this. South Africa however, are lagging behind in their bid for a cleaner, greener future on the roads. Allow Battery Experts to suggest 5 ways South Africa can get more electric vehicles onto the roads.

Greater reliance on renewable energy

Eskom is South Africa’s government-owned, main energy provider. However, due to years of mismanagement, Eskom is struggling with operational and maintenance issues, failing to supply enough energy to the national grid.

As a result, the country is experiencing it’s latest period of shedding, which are planned rolling blackouts. This limited access to electricity and charging will do little to convince South African citizens to invest in an electric vehicle.

There is also an over-dependence on fossil-fuels in South Africa. If Eskom were to increase their reliance on renewable energy resources, such as solar power, wind power and natural gas, this could produce enough electricity for the national grid, helping power electric vehicles. This will also reduce carbon emissions.

Invest in infrastructure

As well as investing in renewable energy, the South African Government must also invest in the infrastructure for EV’s, if drivers are going to be convinced to purchase an electric vehicle.

There is a shortage of charging points across the country. In January 2020, South Africa had 155 charging points. The UK has 25,000, bearing in mind the UK is 5 times smaller than South Africa. Standard electric vehicles should be charged every 100 miles, so 155 charging points spread across South Africa is an insufficient number to persuade drivers to invest.

Encourage third party investment

With Eskom experiencing operational issues and requiring government bailouts, the government could struggle to invest enough in the EV industry, without assistance.

South Africa has imported less than 1,000 electric vehicles into the country. This is because the countries petrol and diesel automotive industry is a major source of income, so they are discouraged to invest too heavily in the production of EV’s.

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Allowing third parties to invest in the production of EVs will enable drivers to have more access to purchase an electric vehicle, without paying extortionate prices.

NAAMSA (the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa) includes car manufacturers BMW, Ford, Isuzu, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagon. This non-competitive group of manufacturers represent the interests of the new motor vehicle manufacturing industry in South Africa. Allowing these manufacturers to independently invest in and produce electric vehicles would get more EV’s onto South African roads, without effecting the income gained from the country’s automotive industry.

Reduce import costs for EV’s

The import costs for electric cars are much higher, compared to those of fossil fuel vehicles. These high tariffs alone can dissuade drivers from purchasing an EV, this is before issues with charging and infrastructure are considered.

Reducing import costs would also encourage further investment, from third parties such as Tesla. Elon Musk the South African Tesla founder, has stated the companies intentions to operate in the country. However, the high import costs of electric vehicles have discouraged them from doing so. Tesla installs their own charging stations in the countries they operate, which would improve EV infrastructure without the South African government being required to invest too heavily.

Create incentives for EV drivers

Countries such as Norway have had so much success in implementing the EV revolution by rewarding drivers who invest in the cars. Drivers of EV’s in Norway can drive in bus lanes, have access to free parking zones in cities and pay 25% less VAT.

Instead, as it stands, South African citizens pay a premium price for EV’s and face difficulties charging the cars. If South African drivers are to invest in an EV, they need to be persuaded with financial incentives or to improve convenience.

Again lowering import costs and allowing third-parties to create incentives for their drivers will ease the burden on the Government. For example in California, drivers of Tesla vehicles are able to use custom Tesla ‘Superchargers’, which gives them access to fast charging across the city.

For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.

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