For a very long time, battery-electric vehicles have generally been more expensive than comparable internal combustion engine vehicles. The gap between the upfront purchase prices was so high at times that it could only be justified by the lower total cost of ownership advantage that BEVs have from a financial point of view. The environmental benefits are clear and have been well documented before on several platforms even with today’s grid energy mix, and the grid will keep getting cleaner over time in more places around the world. The TCO analysis is a pretty straightforward thing for professionals like fleet managers, but for the general consumer who is in the market for a car for personal use, first impressions usually focus mainly on the upfront purchase price comparison.
Because of the high demand for EVs in several markets, up until very recently, OEMs could keep the prices of passenger electric vehicles at these higher pricing levels and some often had regular price increases due to a combination of this high demand and other forces that drove higher prices along their supply chains. As more BEV models come on the market and as the market and as the entire EV ecosystem continues to evolve, we are now seeing more and more BEVs arriving at competitive prices with equivalent ICE vehicles and sometimes even at parity with those ICE vehicles. This will go a long way in getting more people in a position to afford BEVs.
Late last year, we saw the MG 4 landing in UK at price parity with the iconic VW Golf, in the very popular hatchback segment in the United Kingdom. Earlier this week, BYD launched its compact hatchback, the Dolphin, in Thailand at competitive prices with popular ICE vehicles in the compact hatchback segment such as the Honda City and the Toyota Yaris.
In more good news, this time from South Africa, BMW has recently launched the BMW i4 eDrive 35 M Sport. This adds to the growing list of BEVs BMW offers in the South African market, including the flagship i7, the i4 M50, the iX3, the iX, and Mini Cooper SE. South African motoring journalist Justus Visagie, who has been going on a lot of long road trips in South Africa — recently driving different BEVs from Cape Town to Johannesburg — recently pointed out that the recently launched BMW i4 eDrive 35 M Sport is actually priced very competitively with some popular ICE vehicles in South Africa.
Here is a summary table showing this:
The BMW i4 eDrive 35 M Sport starts from R1,293,000 ($71,136). As we can see from the table, the BMW i4 eDrive 35 M Sport is a lot more expensive than the Lexus IS 300h F Sport, which is priced from R1,036,400 ($57,038). However, the BMW i4 eDrive 35 M Sport is cheaper than the Audi RS4 Avant Quattro ($79,719) and if you are in the market for a coupe, it is cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Coupe 4Matic ($74,768) and the Toyota GR Supra 3.0T ($71,598), so this could convince some to go for the cheaper 5-door BMW instead.
If you consider the fact the BEVs in South Africa still have higher import duties and taxes compared with ICE vehicles, it’s a really good development that we are starting to see BEV models at competitive prices with ICE vehicles that are in a similar segment. Slowly but surely we will start getting more and more of these more competitively priced BEVs in this part of the world as well.
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