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The Volvo XC40 Tops The Battery-Electric Vehicle Charts in Q1 In South Africa

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Sales of battery-electric vehicles continue to show steady progress in South Africa. Battery-electric vehicle sales breached the 500 units per year mark in South Africa for the first time ever in 2022. Last year, 502 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in South Africa, up from 218 in 2021.

South Africa’s Automotive Business Council (NAAMSA) has just released the motor vehicle sales figures for Q1 2023 and these figures show that in the first three months of the year, already the number of BEVs sold last quarter were almost half the number of BEVs sold in the whole of last year! In Q1 of this year, 232 BEVs were sold in South Africa. More BEVs were sold in Q1 of 2023 than in the whole of 2021. That is some good progress. That means sales of BEVs in 2023 are almost certain to double again, which is pretty impressive, given the limited selection of BEVs in South Africa, as well as the fact that most of the BEV models offered in the country are the more premium models that start from over R1 million ($54,649). 

Topping the sales charts in Q1 was the Volvo XC40 with 66 units, followed by the BMW iX3 with 44 units, the BMW iX with 43 units, the Mini Cooper SE with 32, and the BMW i4 rounded off the top 5 with 12 units. As you can see, the BMW group dominates the BEV sales charts in South Africa. BMW has traditionally dominated BEV sales in South Africa. The i3 led the sales charts for several years, as it was for a long time the only BEV sold in South Africa after the first-generation Nissan LEAF sales were stopped in the market.

BMW South Africa has been consistent in introducing new BEV models to the South African market as soon as they become available on the global market. This is probably one of the reasons why BMW continues to rule the BEV charts in South Africa. In 2022, BMW was top yet again. This time it was the BMW iX3 topping the charts with 106 units registered. Although the numbers are still low, the BMW iX3 sold more units in 2022 than all BEVs combined in 2020! The MINI Cooper SE, another one from the BMW stable, was in second place. The MINI Cooper SE had 96 sales, also selling more in 2022 than all BEVs combined in 2020. The BMW iX landed with a bang in 2021, getting 63 sales, and was steady in 2022 with 70 sales. Will the Volvo BEVs break this trend and top the BEV charts in 2023? Let’s wait and find out at the end of the year. 


Source: NAAMSA, Lightstone Auto, 2023

Plug-in hybrids continue to record low figures in South Africa, registering just 25 units in the quarter.  The Volvo XC60 topped the plug-in charts with 7 units, followed by the Volvo XC90 with 4 units and tied with the Range Rover Sport and  the Ferrari 296 GTB that registered 4 units. The Ferrari SF90 registered 3 units and completed the top 5. 

Source: NAAMSA, Lightstone Auto, 2023

Overall, 93,100 vehicles were sold in South Africa in Q1. That means BEVs were just 0.25% of sales during Q1. There is loads of work ahead to get BEV sales up to where other markets in the world are now, as several markets are showing market shares above 10%. BEVs in South Africa still pay higher import duties and taxes than ICE vehicles. Yes, believe it or not, BEVs pay higher taxes and duties in South Africa in 2023! Taxes in South Africa are set at 18% for ICE imports vs. 25% for EV imports. There is also the ad valorem tax for EVs, which pushes the cost of an EV to more than twice that of the average price of a new ICE vehicle of a similar make/model in most cases. This is probably why the majority of EV models in South Africa are the more premium models where the pricing is more competitive than in the smaller vehicle segment.

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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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