We recently looked at how driving electric is cheaper than driving ICE vehicles in Africa in part 1, 2, and 3. But where are those vehicles going to come from? Africa is not on the radar of most traditional OEMs, and this is likely to be the scenario for a while.
We do hear some very good news every now and then, such as Hyundai’s Joint Venture with Olympic Champion Haile Gebrselassie’s Marathon Motor Engineering, which has started assembling the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq in Ethiopia.
We have previously looked at some of the best routes for African consumers to get in on the EV revolution. These included looking at the new more affordable models coming from India such as the Tata Nexon EV, ramping up EV conversions, and growing the inventory of used EVs in these markets. Growing the inventory of used EVs is the quickest route at the moment to get consumers driving electric.
Over 90% of vehicles brought into most African countries are used vehicles from Asia, America, Europe, and the Middle East. Only a handful of countries in Africa have outlawed the importation of used vehicles. These are Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Sudan. The rest have age restrictions on the maximum age of a vehicle that can be imported. These age caps range from 5 years to 10 years.
Some countries apply a penalty fee for vehicles that are over 10 years old. A few others have no age cap at all. Used vehicles are then able to land at prices that are more affordable for the large majority of low to middle-income consumers, resulting in the growth of used vehicle imports in some markets at rates of over 10% per year. So it’s important to start tracking the used EV space in Africa as it presents the quickest route to accelerating EV adoption based on the availability of EVs.
Some early adopters in several African countries that allow these imports had been importing their own EVs independently and directly from overseas. We are starting to see more and more used car dealers stocking used EVs and not just bringing in EVs per order.
In most of these markets, used Nissan Leafs dominate as they are the ones that are readily available in the traditional source markets such as Japan. The Nissan Leaf has sold over 480,000 Leafs since 2010, second only to the icon of electromobility, the Tesla Model 3, which has sold over 500,000 units.
Most importers target the very early models from 2011 to 2014 which land in the respective countries at price tags between $9,000 to $16,000 depending on age, mileage, and battery condition. These models are famous for the much-publicized accelerated battery degradation due to the Leafs’ lack of an active thermal management system. Most consumers don’t mind, as they are using the Leafs for their daily round trip commutes which don’t go beyond 30 or 40 km in most cases.
In Ghana, Accraine Ghana, with offices in the United Kingdom and Ghana, has started supplying a selection of BEVs and PHEVs to customers in Ghana. They also retail and install charging equipment and related accessories.
Patrick Amoah, Accraine’s CEO says:
“Our target customers are the Taxi drivers, companies (EV fleet for their employees) as well as the general public. We are open to supporting any customer who wants to switch to EV. People are excited about the idea of not having to purchase fuel as well as the low-cost maintenance on BEV & PHEV.”
In Zimbabwe, car dealers have also started to stock some used Nissan Leafs. Zimbabwe is an interesting case, as the country has been experiencing crippling petrol and diesel shortages, meaning used EVs could find a ready market.
The electricity supply situation in the country has improved significantly in recent months following the rainy season that has allowed the power utility to generate more electricity from the country’s Kariba Dam, which has an installed capacity of 1,050 MW. In the worst of times when the utility company had implemented 18-hour daily power cuts as it struggled to meet demand, Brendan Wright and his family showed that they could still go about their daily commutes quite comfortably in an EV. The Wright family also has a Nissan leaf and from the looks of it, many more families are going to join them soon in switching to electric.
With sales of EVs growing in the UK, a major source market for used vehicles, there will be more used EVs to choose from in the near future. Until the major OEMs decide to look at the African market, the United Kingdom, Japan, and others will continue to be the primary source of EVs for most African countries, the majority of them being used vehicles. It would be nice to see some of the brand new affordable models on our list of 7 ICE killers come to Africa soon, but that won’t happen soon enough.