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Clean Transport

South African Retail Firm Woolworths Introduces Electric Vans On Its Delivery Routes

South African retail firm Woolworths is trialing electric panel vans as part of its online shopping delivery fleet, a first in the South African retail space, according to their announcement on Twitter. Woolworths is one of South Africa’s premier clothing, grocery, beauty, and home retailers. It also has some awesome cafés which happen to by one of my favorite café chains.

Woolworths is collaborating with Pretoria-based electric vehicles as a service firm Everlectric. Everlectric wants to make the transition to electric a seamless experience for fleet operators. The company will do this by bundling in electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, and innovative finance solutions. That means there are no upfront costs on the vehicles & charging infrastructure, and fleet operators just get one bill at the end of the month that includes all the “electrical fuel” needed. Everlectric will also be responsible for the vehicle maintenance.

According to Everlectric’s website, its “geographically distributed charging network solves fleet operators’ range anxiety and charging needs making sure fleet operators don’t need to spend any CAPEX on charging infrastructure, and gives them access to charge points across all operational areas.”


Electric Van Specifications

SAIC Maxus eDeliver 3 Specifications

I am a big fan of electric vans. It’s good to see more electric vans coming to African countries. Interestingly, a lot of the electric vans starting to come to African markets are from Chinese manufacturers. BYD Zimbabwe introduced the T3 electric van earlier this year. The T3 electric  van has already been deployed on the Harare International Airport shuttle service. In Ghana, SolarTaxi has introduced the SolarCargo Logistic service using the 40 kWh The Skywell D07. In Kenya, Meta Electric is also leasing electric vans. It’s really interesting to see that the Chinese vans are taking the lead in this space. We will soon see Chinese brands take over from Japanese brands in Africa across several vehicle segments, as discussed previously here.

In its announcement, Woolworths said, “To power the vans, we source electricity from renewable & sustainable sources including rooftop Solar PV installations. Where onsite generation of renewable energy is not available or practical, we offset 100% of the electricity emissions via renewable energy certificates.” This is really significant given the fact that South Africa’s grid is mostly powered by coal. EVs and PVs are a match made in heaven, and the synergies between the two will drive growth in both sectors. We will start to see more of this in more markets across the continent. Exciting times ahead.

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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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