BMW South Africa has been at the forefront of promoting electric mobility in South Africa. The BMW i3 has been the only electric model that has been consistently available in South Africa since 2015, hence it is tops of the all-time sales charts with 405 units sold since 2015.
BMW South Africa brought the first-generation i3 that had the 60 Ah battery cells in 2015. It then went on to bring both upgrades of the i3, the one with 90 Ah battery cells and now the current 120 Ah cells, to South Africa. BMW also retails several plugin hybrid models, including the 330e, the 7 Series, the i8 Roadster, and the BMW X5 xDrive45e. BMW SA is now also bringing the Mini-E that is expected to be priced from about R589,000. This will make it start at a price that is just a bit cheaper than the i3, which is priced from around R700,000.
Despite only 1,119 EVs having been sold in South Africa since 2015, BMW and Jaguar seem to believe in the potential of this market. Jaguar has recently been rewarded for bringing the I-PACE to South Africa as it has just been named the 2020 AutoTrader Car of the Year. This is the first time the award has been won by a Jaguar and also the first time in its 34-year history that the award has been given to an electric car.
VW SA, which has been a popular brand traditionally in South Africa due to its gas/diesel vehicles — such as the Polo, Polo Vivo, the Jetta, and of course the Golf — has adopted a more measured approach. Its first electric vehicle in South Africa will be the ID.4 and it will only arrive in South Africa in 2022! Between now and then, VW will bring 6 e-Golfs to be used as courtesy vehicles by VW customers bringing in their gas/diesel vehicles for service, etc., for them to get a feel of electric mobility.
The e-Golfs will also be used by motor vehicle journalists, by VW employees, and by select dealerships as demo models to gauge customer insights. VW will expand the trial by including the ID.3 hatchback in 2021. It’s a shame that the ID.3 will not be sold in South Africa just yet. This Golf-sized hatchback could have been a decent option for some VW enthusiasts to transition to electric mobility. There is a thought that the market would probably prefer the ID.4, as recent trends show consumers moving to small SUVs from hatchbacks. Still, it would have been great to see the ID.3 being sold in South Africa as we wait for the ID.4. We desperately need more electric models to be made available in South Africa to give customers more options to choose from and thus catalyze the electric vehicle market in South Africa. After all, buyers can only choose from what’s in front of them.
South Africa’s punitive duties and taxes on imported EVs do not help the industry. Electric vehicles attract a customs duty of 25%, while for petrol and diesel vehicles it is 18%. On top of this, there is the Ad Valorem Customs Excise Duties and VAT, which push the sticker prices of EVs much higher than gas/diesel vehicles in similar segments. Perhaps then the likes of VW could start with some cheaper options in their stable, such as the new e-Up. It could be a nice option for South Africans with its 200 km real-world range powered by its 32.3 kWh battery. If they really need to do some trials to get some customer insights, would a 6-month trial period including some e-Ups not work? A 2-year trial seems such a long one especially when other automakers such as BMW and Jaguar have already taken the plunge.
Related story: Electric Vehicles In South Africa: Where Are We Now?
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