Having taken part in several round table sessions on electric mobility involving a wide cross section of stakeholders in quite a number of African countries, I have noticed that some of the key concerns that keep coming up in these forums are on the lack of trained technicians and first responders in the various countries.
Audi South Africa recently conducted some training sessions for first responders to help address these concerns, as well as prepare the industry for the growing electric mobility segment. Audi is the first OEM to train and prepare South African first responders like fire services and paramedics on the topic of e-mobility and electric vehicles. 70 first responders were trained as part of Audi’s local e-tron launch and EV roll-out. Classroom and practical-based EV training enabled a train-the-trainer facilitation across all portfolios within the Department of Cooperative Governance and the National Disaster Management Centre in South Africa.
Audi’s statement says:
“As part of our planning towards the introduction of our fully electric Audi e-tron model range, we consulted with the Department of Cooperative Governance and the National Disaster Management Centre in South Africa and identified a need to progress the education and information of electric vehicles (EV) to First Responders. These individuals, like paramedics and fire services play a vital role towards the safety and security of South African drivers and with the growing transition towards e-mobility, there was definitely an important responsibility on our part to bring these teams along our local EV transition or journey,” explains Sascha Sauer, Head of Audi South Africa.
The training facilitated a programme to “train the trainer”, with South African National Fire and Emergency Services, enabling the team of trainees to be in a position to adequately handle electric vehicle incidents on South African roads. The class room based training content included education and awareness of EV product features; technicalities of charging; and battery operations and safety guidelines to handling an electrically operated vehicle in comparison to an internal combustion engine. Attendees were also exposed to Audi’s recently launched Audi e-tron models through a practical exercise based on global best training practices.
“With the arrival of more and more electric vehicles on our roads and across the country, the training of this nature was invaluable to our First Responder teams. It is great to see that the future of automotive is taking place in South Africa and that our teams are seen as an important stakeholder within this new era. Thank you to Audi to exposing us to this new topic,” says, Acting Director of Fire Services, Thibedi Jappie Lengoabala.
“EV’s are increasing in popularity and will have an extensive presence on our roads within the next five years. While EV’s will present new and unique challenges to our emergency services, there are effective ways to ensure safe and operative responses to any EV related incident. Skilled and qualified personnel is key to all of this. Audi is proud to start the educational training process with our National Fire and Emergency Services teams, helping to keep them and South Africans safe on the roads. Understanding the basic EV construction and technicalities will empower emergency and fire services to react with confidence while saving lives, but also limiting as much damage as possible to the vehicle,” concludes Sauer.
Audi South Africa launched the e-tron range last year, which includes:
- e-tron 55 SUV
- e-tron Sportback 55
- e-tron Sportback S
- e-tron GT
- And the RS e-tron GT
Pricing starts from around R1,990,000 ($123,000) for the e-tron 55 Advanced and R3,300,000 ($204,000) for the Audi RS e-tron GT. Specialist e-tron dealerships include Bryanston, Rivonia, Sandton (in Johannesburg); Centurion, Hatfield, Menlyn (in Pretoria); Century City, Clairemont (in Cape Town) and Umhlanga & Audi Centre (in Durban).
Audi South Africa was also the first to bring 150 kW charging stations to South Africa in a partnership with GridCars.