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Partnering to grow electric vehicles in South Africa
Monday, 08 April 2019: In the past weeks Eskom and the major players in the electric vehicle (EV) market in South Africa met to discuss how to unlock the EV potential locally – given the massive growth in this sector globally.
 
Indications are that the drive to reduce fuel-powered cars is growing exponentially:
  • The UK has announced that 60% of all cars and small vans need to be electric vehicles by 2032 and completely carbon free by 2035. 
  • Volvo Cars has announced that every Volvo it launches from 2019 will have an electric or hybrid motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE).
  • EVs and hybrid EVs will account for an estimated 30% of all vehicle sales by 2025. 
 
Locally we have seen about 1 000 EVs being sold in South Africa since 2015 – the pace being much slower than Europe and China.  Some of the factors limiting the growth of this market are:
  • Price of EVs due to 45% import taxes and duties on EVs
  • Range that you can travel with an EV on one battery charge
  • Access to electricity to charging facilities
 
Eskom is actively involved in the EV sector as the primary electricity supplier for vehicle charging.  Eskom’s main objective is to craft special tariffs for EV owners to charge their vehicles at off-peak times, thereby helping to flatten the demand patterns outside peak periods and ensure affordable power for EV owners. 
 
Those concerned about Eskom’s ability to supply the necessary electricity need not worry – even a massive growth in EVs will not have a major impact on the overall demand during any normal day.  Other than that, Eskom is also well advanced in its research on photovoltaic and battery storage options to power EVs in the future.
 
Stakeholders involved are Eskom, car manufacturers, NGOs such as uYilo, EVRT Africa and GridCars, various major metros such as Cape Town and Johannesburg and then Government departments such as Trade & Industry, Transport and Environmental Affairs.  The goal is ultimately to come up with a country solution regarding electric transport.
 
It is a fact that South Africa has major investments and income streams related to fuel-powered cars.  However, international experience is showing that EV manufacturing, charging stations and battery manufacturing are creating new job opportunities and new markets – often linked to the retraining of people who were working in the fuel car industries. 
 
The writing is on the wall – electric vehicles will be the transport medium of the future and we as South Africa need to be part of the movement, or risk massive losses if we are not geared for this new wave of technology.
 
ENDS