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Founders of MAXUS Electric Vehicles South Africa, Ndia Magadagela, Paul Plummer and Wesley van der Walt.

Clean Transport

SAIC Partners With South African Dealer To Accelerate Decarbonization of Urban Logistics Fleets

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MAXUS Electric Vehicles says green mobility enables companies to reduce fleet operating costs by up to 80% and save more than a tonne of emissions per vehicle per month.

Sales of passenger electric vehicles are starting to gain significant traction in South Africa. In the first half of 2023, total sales of passenger battery-electric vehicles matched the total for the whole of 2022! 502 units were sold in 2022. When it comes to vehicle sales, pickups are a really big deal in South Africa, with the top two slots in the annual vehicle sales charts usually being taken by pickups. Pickups are popularly known as Bakkies in South Africa. Other commercial vehicle segments also register significant sales and therefore the availability of electric pickups in the market as well as other commercial vehicle segments will go a long way in boosting sales of battery-electric vehicles in South Africa.

In a major boost for the commercial vehicle sector in South Africa, Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC), one of the world’s top five electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, has appointed a South African dealer and distributor to market and sell its commercial EVs. The newly formed green mobility business, called MAXUS Electric Vehicles, is among the country’s first distributors to focus exclusively on the EV market.

MAXUS Electric Vehicles will offer urban logistics fleets access to EVs that help them to reduce total cost of ownership and make significant progress towards their net-zero goals. Early customers in South Africa, such as Woolworths and DSV, working with MAXUS’ leasing partner Everlectric, have already zoomed past 1,000,000 km while saving over 220,000 kg of harmful carbon emissions. Woolworths South Africa recently received delivery of a fleet of 41 MAXUS eDeliver 3 electric delivery vehicles. FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), also recently deployed its first 10 electric vehicles in South Africa, as part of the company’s continuing efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable logistics.

MAXUS Electric Vehicles say proof of concepts with MAXUS vehicles show that each EV on the road saves more than a tonne of carbon emissions each month. Operating costs are attractive compared to ICE vehicles, at around 40 c/km to run a MAXUS EV compared to around R2/km for a combustion engine. The low maintenance nature of EVs helps to improve asset utilization, delivering further efficiencies.

“With environmental and sustainability concerns rising up the corporate agenda and the growing operational efficiencies of EVs, there is a compelling business case for decarbonising urban logistics fleets,” said Ndia Magadagela, CEO at MAXUS Electric Vehicles. “We are excited to partner with a leading EV manufacturer to offer South African companies access to commercial EVs that enable them to simultaneously reduce CO2 emissions and harvest cost savings.”

MAXUS will initially focus on the Gauteng market, with the opening of one of South Africa’s first all-electric vehicle dealerships, showrooms, and service centres in Menlyn, Pretoria. Launches will follow in Cape Town, Durban, and other metropolitan areas. Financing is available from major commercial banks.

MAXUS Electric Vehicles will initially offer three commercial EV models to the South African market:

The MAXUS eDeliver 3 Panel Van features a comfortable cab, a range of up to 244-344 km and a payload of up to 945 kg. This vehicle has been extensively tested and validated in South Africa over the past 24 months with MAXUS’ leasing partner, Everlectric.

  • WLTP Combined Range: 250 km
  • WLTP Urban Range: 300 km
  • Charge Time DC: 5% – 80% in 45 minutes
  • Charge Time AC: 5% – 100% in 8 hours
  • Battery Capacity: 50.23 kWh

The MAXUS eDeliver 3 Chassis Cab is a two-seat, single chassis variant that allows customers to load a range of commercial bodies onto the long wheelbase chassis. These include drop side load bins, space saver cargo canopies, refrigeration, and temperature controlled bodies. It can be ordered for delivery later this year.

  • WLTP Combined Range: Body Configuration Dependent
  • WLTP Urban Range: Body Configuration Dependent
  • Charge Time DC: 5% – 80% in 45 minutes
  • Charge Time AC: 5% – 100% in 6 hours
  • Battery Capacity: 51.5 kWh

The MAXUS T90EV, which can be ordered for delivery in late 2023, will be the first electric double cab bakkie to be available in South Africa.With 354 km of range, the vehicle provides an alternative to urban 4X2 commercial combustion double cabs in industries like mining, private security, aviation, and farming.

  • WLTP Combined Range: 330 km
  • WLTP Urban Range: 400 km
  • Charge Time DC: 5% – 80% in 45 minutes @ 80 kW
  • Charge Time AC: 5% – 100% in 9 hours @11 kW, 5% – 100% in 13 hours @7 kW
  • Battery Capacity: 88 kWh

MAXUS Electric Vehicles say that its MAXUS vehicles have sufficient range for commercial operations and can be charged overnight, with solar panels or when there’s no load-shedding. They can also be charged on most existing DC Fast Charger networks in South Africa. The local dealership and its partners have also created a grid-tied charging infrastructure with solar micro-grids to support customers.

The global EV market is reaching its tipping point, with Morningstar forecasting that EVs will account for 40% of global auto sales by 2030 — more than five times the number of EVs sold in 2022. However, growth in South Africa has been somewhat slower because high upfront prices have dampened enthusiasm in the consumer market for EVs.

“It is testimony to the efficiency of commercial EVs that they outshine traditional internal combustion engine fleets in terms of operational costs—despite the ad valorem taxes added to EV imports in South Africa,” said Magadagela. “Lower duties could help to encourage faster adoption of commercial EVs and shape a cleaner energy future.”

“We urge government, commercial fleets, financing companies, and other stakeholders to join hands to accelerate adoption of EVs in South Africa. Fast-tracking the migration to EVs will not only help us to pave the way for a more sustainable future and meet Net Zero goals — it will also ensure our global competitiveness as the world decarbonises vehicle fleets.”

I am really looking forward to seeing more of these electric pickups and vans on South Africa’s roads. This is a major development for South Africa, and I hope to se MAXUS EVs as well as other commercial electric vehicles spreading to other countries on the African continent.

Images courtesy of MAXUS Electric Vehicles

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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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