Full Electric Vehicle Registrations Overtake Plugin Hybrids In South Africa

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About a year ago we wrote the article “Electric Vehicles in South Africa: Where Are We Now?,” which gave a view on the state of the electric vehicle market in South Africa. One year later we want to give an update on the progress since then. Whilst there has been slow and steady progress in the past year, the general issues slowing down sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in South Africa remain. Before we look at those barriers, lets summarise some of the key positives during 2020 up to February 2021:

  1. Full electric vehicle (BEV) registrations surpassed plugin hybrids (PHEVs) for the first time despite PHEVs having more models available for consumers to buy on the South African market.
  2. A few more fully electric models were added to the South African market, including the Mini Cooper SE and the Porsche Taycan. Volkswagen brought in a few e-Golfs as demo models, as did Mercedes with the EQC.
  3. South Africa now has one of the highest ratios of public EV chargers to EVs in the world.
  4. Several OEMs announced they will launch BEVs in the South African market in 2021 and 2022, including the Volvo XC40 Recharge, the BMW iX3, and the Volkswagen ID.4.

Only 92 BEVs were registered in South Africa in 2020, which is 0.02% of the 380,206 vehicles sold locally in 2020. Notable figures in that 92 include 24 Porsche Taycans, which is pretty impressive given the fact that they have only been available on the market for a few months as well as their hefty price tag. Three models of the Taycan are available in South Africa, all starting at well over R2.5 million (over $150,000).

  1. The Taycan 4S starts at R2,586,000 ($156,739)
    • 71 kWh usable battery capacity
    • Range: 365 km
    • Total power: 390kW
    • Overboost Power with Launch Control
    • 640 Nm maximum torque with Launch Control
    • 0 to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds with Launch Control
    • Top speed of 250 km/h
  1. The Taycan Turbo is priced from R3,426,000 ($207,664)
    • 83.7 kWh usable battery capacity
    • Range: 390 km
    • Total power: 500 kW
    • Overboost Power with Launch Control
    • 850 Nm maximum torque with Launch Control
    • 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds with Launch Control
    • Top speed of 260 km/h
  1. The Taycan Turbo S is priced from R4,027,000 ($244,086)
    • 83.7 kWh usable battery capacity
    • Range: 375 km
    • All Wheel Drive
    • Overboost Power with Launch Control
    • Total power: 560 kW
    • 1,050 Nm maximum torque
    • 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds with Launch Control
    • Top speed of 260 km/h

The 92 BEVs sold in 2020 bring the total number of BEVs sold in South Africa since 2013 to 671, and 449 of these are BMW’s i3. The upcoming BMW iX3 should help BMW maintain its market dominance given the popularity of its ICE sibling, the X3, which is assembled in Pretoria, South Africa. Hopefully, BMW will also bring in the i4 as soon as possible, which could also be quite popular in this part of the world.

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79 plugin hybrids were sold in South Africa in 2020, bringing the total number of PHEVs sold since 2015 to 661. Again, this segment is dominated by BMW, led by the i8, with the plugin variants of the X5, 7 Series, and 3 Series also in the mix. It’s really good to see that South Africans are now showing more faith in BEVs over PHEVs. This could be due to the fact that the few BEVs available on the market now have decent driving range as well as the growing public charging network.

The annual sales figures would be much better and probably increase by at least a factor of 10 immediately if more affordable models were available on the market. The excessive import duties and taxes on BEVs remain a major barrier. Whilst petrol and diesel vehicles from the EU have a customs duty of 18 percent in South Africa, for electric vehicles the duty is 25 percent in South Africa! Then there is the Ad Valorem Customs Excise Duties and VAT. A quick look at the vehicles and pricing of models available in South Africa shows that these vehicles are out of reach for the majority of car buyers.

To really move the needle, we need more affordable models in a price range closer R300,000 ($21,000). There is hope, as South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has just released a Green Paper on the “Advancement of New Energy Vehicles In South Africa,” a government policy discussion paper, the first steps towards coming up with a policy position on new energy vehicles. Comments on this draft paper are still open and may be submitted to the DTIC until early June.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 755 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai