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Africa Needs Toyota-Branded BEVs, & Here’s Why

The Brookings Institution says consumers in Africa are brand conscious and brand loyal. When it comes to cars, that brand is Toyota! In the brand new vehicle market, the Toyota Hilux is king in South Africa and also tops other charts. Other popular models in the new vehicle market are the Corolla, the Fortuner, and the Yaris.

The Washington DC-based Brookings Institution says consumers in Africa are brand conscious and brand loyal. When it comes to cars, that brand is Toyota! In the brand new vehicle market, the Toyota Hilux is king in South Africa and also tops other charts. Other popular models in the new vehicle market are the Corolla, the Fortuner, and the Yaris.

Excluding Egypt, South Africa, Sudan, and Morocco where the importation of used vehicles is banned, the majority of vehicles brought to the continent are used vehicles, and in this market Toyota is also topping the sales charts. Popular models in the used vehicle market that are imported mostly from Japan include the Corolla, Vitz, Belta, Passo, Fielder, Noah, Hiace, and the Crown. 

Toyota has been slow to release mass market BEVs. The company instead focused for a very long time on mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids like the Prius. It has also spent a lot of time and money on fuel cell tech vehicles like the Mirai. To help push the transition to electromobility on the continent, we reckon these brand loyal consumers would perhaps really appreciate an all-electric Toyota, but it is very hard to get one outside China.

The Toyota Proace all-electric van

The Toyota Proace all-electric van

The Proace all-electric van, which is essentially a rebadged Opel e-Vivaro/ Peugeot e-Expert/ Citroën e-Jumpy, and the Lexus UX300e will also be available in Europe soon. A lot of consumers trust the Toyota brand and believe its models are reliable, affordable, easy, and also cheap to maintain. Maybe that’s also why Toyota is putting a lot of emphasis on its 1 million kilometer battery warranty to appeal to its loyal fanbase who may not know a lot about electric cars. EV batteries do last a whole lot longer that most people think.

We certainly hope Toyota has read this outstanding article from Maarten on three phenomena, the Osborne effect of delayed demand, the technology (cost) curve of battery prices and the technology, and the S-curve that describes market acceptance of new technologies. Maarten also discusses how the transition to electromobility is happening much faster than most people think. If anyone at Toyota has read these two articles, they would know that now is the time to come to the party and supercharge their plans to roll out more BEV models.

GAC Toyota iA5 is totally a sibling of GAC Aion S, China PEV

A good start would be to scale up production and export to Africa, or assemble in Africa, rebadged versions of the GAC Ion S which is branded as a sedan in China. It is priced at $25,000 in China. They should just bring it to Africa and call it the e-Corolla! It should do very well with its decent specs, as summarized below:

  • NCM 811 ternary lithium battery from CATL
  • Battery pack capacity 58.8kWh and energy density of 170Wh/kg.
  • Range is 510km (NEDC).
  • Permanent magnet synchronous motor, maximum power of 135 kW (181hp) and peak torque of 300 Nm

FAW Toyota Izoa

Another one to bring would be the FAW Toyota Izoa/GAC Toyota C-HR EV. The GAC Toyota C-HR EV has a 54 kWh battery with a range of about 400 km (NEDC). Its battery pack has an energy density of around 131Wh/kg. Perhaps what would really make a huge difference is a small city EV. Leave out those nice to have but not necessary bells and whistles, and ship boatloads of the small Aygo, Yaris, and Etios-sized EVs.

If they can get those out at a price close to the Renault K-ZE, these Toyota City EVs would do well on our list of ICE killers. To get going, a lot of OEMs just work around an existing platform to bring out an EV. We have seen a lot of this with the eGolf, the Mercedes EQC — which is based on a similar platform to the GLE — as well as the recently launched BMW iX3, which is based on the X3. Another gamechanger could be an all-electric Toyota Hilux. We have looked at why an all-electric pick up would do well in South Africa and other African markets and why this would be good for the Tesla Cybertruck.

But what if Toyota just jumps right in and uses the existing platform in the meantime to make an all-electric Hilux? Check out this video on Africa’s love for Toyota and why Toyota really needs to bring an all-electric Hilux.


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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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