After a very slow start, electric vehicle sales seem to be starting to gain some traction in South Africa. Sales of battery-electric vehicles breached the 500 units per year mark in South Africa for the first time ever in 2022. Last year, 502 BEVs were sold in South Africa, up from 218 in 2021. Audi South Africa is one of the companies that are bringing quite a number of full battery-electric vehicles to the South African market. Some of the models available in South Africa include the Audi e-tron, Audi e-tron GT, and the Audi e-tron Sportback.
Audi South Africa has been very active in the EV space across the value chain. Last year, Audi South Africa 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 was 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 rollout. Classroom and practical 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 South Africa has also been working with several partners to accelerate the growth of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the country. Audi SA has just announced the addition of new charging stations in the country. In this new phase, Audi South Africa, in partnership with Rubicon, has brought 43 additional electric vehicle charging stations online across the country. These chargers can accommodate a total of 57 EVs simultaneously, at varying capacities, regardless of model or brand ownership. This is in addition to the brand’s contribution of 70 EV charging connection points nationwide a year ago, when Audi was the first to bring ultra-fast chargers to South Africa.
The latest rollout includes the very first DC 200kW fast charger in South Africa, which is installed at the largest shopping mall ever built in a single phase — Mall of Africa. The EV battery of an e-tron GT can be recharged about 15 minutes. The solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed at Mall of Africa is one of the largest of its kind in the ssouthern hemisphere, making this installation a progressive statement towards sustainable charging.
The rest of this second phase of infrastructure investment comprises four 100kW (DC), eight 60kW (DC), five 25kW (DC), and twenty-five 22kW (AC) fast EV charger installations at convenient locations across the country to serve all EV customers. The commissioning of the first and second phase of charging infrastructure means that Audi and partners GridCars and Rubicon have installed 76 fast and ultra-fast EV chargers across South Africa, representing about 28% of public charging stations in the country.
“The rollout of our second phase of EV charging stations is the next step in realising our vision of sustainable mobility and living our mantra that the ‘Future is an Attitude’,” says Sascha Sauer, head of Audi South Africa. “EVs are the future of mobility and we’re investing not just in hardware infrastructure, but in making electric mobility simpler and more widely available for South Africans, thus enabling the local EV market to grow. By fulfilling our promise from early 2022, we’re demonstrating our commitment to helping take SA into the future of mobility.”
The partnership between Audi, GridCars, and Rubicon includes a roaming agreement, which allows billing cards to be interoperable across the two networks, making charging even easier, seamless, and accessible for Audi e-tron customers and users of other EV brands.
Greg Blandford, Director of Rubicon Energy & E-mobility, says that as public interest in EVs grows, so will the drive to integrate charging infrastructure, renewable energy and energy storage systems. “Rubicon is fully immersed and committed to the advancement of renewable energy and deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in South Africa. The global adoption of artificial intelligence, smart devices, greener technologies and carbon reduction initiatives has highlighted and accelerated the adoption of electric vehicles. Local availability of more and more EVs, coupled with the increase in fossil fuel costs, will be a major catalyst for EV adoption in South Africa,” he says.
“While load shedding is a reality to which South Africans have become accustomed, it is worth pointing out that our charging network also capitalises on solar installations, where possible, to keep the charging stations optimally operational,” says Sauer. “With a range between 350 and 480km the Audi e-tron models typically do not require a charge every day, so depending on driving style and daily commuting distances, owners will be able to find their nearest charging station and charge their vehicles regularly, with ease.”
The newly added 43 chargers are spread across the provinces as follows:
- Gauteng: 15
- W Cape: 11
- E Cape: 10
- KZN: 4
- Mpumalanga: 2
- Free State: 1
- Total: 43
All 76 Audi-branded charging stations are part of the charging network that can be accessed here.
Interest in electric vehicles is growing in South Africa. A recent Buyers Survey by AutoTrader South Africa showed that:
- 7% of respondents said they would use an EV as their primary vehicle.
- 64.7% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay more for an EV up front, given the running costs were lower than a petrol/diesel car.
- 54% of the respondents were between 35 and 54 years old.
- 50% of the respondents were from one province (Gauteng).
The growing electric vehicle charging network from players such as Audi and its partners will go a long way to encourage more people to go EV. The EV charging infrastructure is also growing along the country’s major highways. This will help more EV owners go on their much loved road trips.
With several new EV models being launched in South Africa this year, plus the growing charging infrastructure, 2023 promises to be the best year yet in terms of EV sales. The addition of new EV models will help address one of the major concerns over the years, which was the limited selection of EVs available in South Africa. Will sales breach the 1000 mark this year? I hope so. Let’s wait and see how sales evolve this year.
Images courtesy of Audi South Africa
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