Sales of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in South Africa have been quite slow over the years. The table below shows EV sales over the past 6 years:
The slow sales of BEVs can be attributed to several reasons, including:
A limited number of models available in South Africa: For along time, there was essentially just one BEV model available. That is the BMW i3. BMW South Africa has been really good with promoting EVs in South Africa. The i3 is South Africa’s all-time top selling BEV, and the i8 tops the plug-in hybrid charts. Since 2015, when BMW brought in the first generation 60 Ah BMW i3, they consistently updated the i3 offering and added new models of the i3 — the 90 Ah and 120 Ah versions. BMW South Africa also introduced plug-in hybrids of several models, including the BMW X5 xDrive45e that comes with a 24 kWh battery pack, giving an all-electric range of about 80 km. BMW South Africa has also introduced the Mini Cooper SE. The Mini brand has always been a popular brand in South Africa and there is hope that this new all electric version will take its place in the hearts of the staunch Mini fans in South Africa. The Mini Cooper is currently the cheapest EV you can buy in South Africa. It starts at R642,000 ($42,000).
High import duties and taxes applicable to electric vehicles in South Africa: Petrol and diesel vehicles imported from the EU into South Africa have a customs duty of 18%, while for electric vehicles it is 25%. There are also the Ad Valorem Customs Excise Duties and VAT.
There is some hope on the availability of models now. Several automakers will be launching more BEVs in South Africa this year to add to the existing models, such as the i3 and the Jaguar I-PACE. BMW is leading the pack yet again, and launched the new flagship BMW iX late last year. The BMW iX landed with a bang, selling 63 units in about 2 months since its launch late last year. In fact, the entire initial allocation for South Africa has already been sold out. To put that into perspective, only 92 BEVs were sold in the whole of 2020 in South Africa. Selling 63 of the iX in a few weeks is very impressive for a vehicle starting at R1,650,000 ($108,000) for the iX xDrive 40 and R2,175,000 ($143,500) for the iX xDrive 50. This also goes to show how well-respected the BMW brand is in South Africa. Will most of the die-hard BMW fans also switch to BEVs from BMW? Time will tell.
Here are the 5 top-selling BEVs in 2021 in South Africa:
The BMW iX has been getting some great reviews in South Africa. It’s easy to see why it has been well received in the popular SUV segment. You can watch an outstanding review of the iX in Cape Town here. Although the numbers are quite low, interest in electric vehicles is growing in South Africa, which is great for sales going forward. BMW is also bringing the new i4 to South Africa. This car should also do very well in a market that loves the 3/4 series range. The all-electric iX3 is also coming to South Africa to provide more BEV options in the popular SUV segment.
Mercedes, Audi, and Volvo are also bring a range of BEVs to South Africa, therefore we should see BEV sales grow quite substantially in 2022. We hope more brands start looking into this market, especially those making EVs that can land below R500,000 ($30,000) to really supercharge the transition to electric mobility.
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