Spies Hecker

The Electric Vehicle car boom is about to hit South Africa, but you won’t hear it coming literally because unlike diesel and petrol engines they are completely silent. With a car parc of some 12.2million vehicles (2017 figures) in South Africa, that is a lot of reduced noise pollution and not to mention the massive amount of carbon emissions from those tail pipes that never get released into the atmosphere.

What electric vehicle car boom you ask, since not much has been said about electric vehicles in the press and the national media? Well to answer this question we need to look farther afield where in Britain for example the death knell of the internal combustion engine (ICE) has been sounded. It announced last year that no car fitted with a petrol or diesel engine would be sold after 2040. Volkswagen itself is now developing 30 electric models, Renault-Nissan has already invested billions of Euro, Nissan’s fully electric-powered Leaf is a pioneer in the industry and Volvo says all vehicles manufactured at its plants after 2019 will have an electric motor. BMW has also announced that it will be releasing an electric-powered Mini and X3, in addition to its i8 and i3. Apart from Britain, Norway, France and the Netherlands also indicated that they have plans to phase out conventional petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles.

South African car manufacturers are in the main owned by companies that are based overseas. If parent companies in Europe and Asia are moving towards phasing out internal combustion engines, we can rest assured that South Africa will follow suit. Already South African car manufacturers are starting to gear themselves up for the inevitable arrival of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Whilst the Nissan Leaf, a pioneer in the South Africa marketplace – as well as the BMW i8, have been around for a few years, Jaguar Landrover has hit the streets running with an ambitious R30 million infrastructure investment that will see 82 new public charging points built. In addition to the publicly available charging stations to be installed in customer parking areas at every Jaguar Land Rover retailer in South Africa, a total of 30 public charging stations will be erected at various points of convenience, such as shopping centres, in the country’s major hubs including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein. To complete the infrastructure investment, the Jaguar Powerway will add a further 22 charging stations located on the main national highways N3, N1 and the infamous Garden Route.

How does all of this affect one as a consumer?

Like major disruptions in cellphone technology, you can expect life on the road to change radically too. At any given time the road could be shared by ICE vehicles, electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. When you park your car at the shopping mall be prepared to see charging stations popping up – and on your next road trip to Durban or Cape Town you will see charging stations along the route.

Our aim is to help you understand what an electric vehicle is, how it works and what the safety considerations are. This e-learning programme has been put together to create awareness of electric and hybrid vehicles and to dispel some of the myths that are created when people don’t have proper information about a product that will disrupt the market very much as smartphones have in the telecommunications sector. Make no mistake, these are currently expensive vehicles but as battery technologies become more advanced the cost of the manufacturing the battery (the single most expensive component of the EV) will come down.

Our aim here is to arm you with basic information that will help you understand EVs and if it so happens that you decide to take the leap into the post diesel and fuel era. Several other automakers declined to comment, deferring instead to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in Washington. The alliance called the new tariffs “unfortunate for consumers and the entire auto sector.”