Electric vehicles (EVs) are fast becoming a popular mode of transport around the world. In recent years, the launch of Tesla and other electrified brands of cars has pushed the industry forward and created a surge in the demand for zero-emission vehicles. EVs offer incredible performance – instant acceleration to high speeds – with constantly-improving range and decreasing costs.
While brands such as Tesla have yet to make a marked impact on the African car market, traditional brands such as Nissan, VW, Jaguar and Toyota are already offering EVs to the local market. South Africa, in particular, is starting to shift towards EVs in preparation for a zero-emission future.
The South African government has already announced its plans to become less reliant on fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation by 2030. Over the next decade, the country will see a significant shift towards EV transport and renewable (green) energy production. This includes a nationwide rollout of charging stations for EVs, which has already begun.
South Africa to embrace EVs through legislation
A few of the major international airports in South Africa, including OR Tambo and Cape Town International, have already had EV charging ports installed in their car parks. Numerous office blocks and highrises around the country have also been equipped with these stations, but there are still too few charging points available, according to current EV owners.
The next phase will be to introduce charging ports at service stations, garages and key points along inter-city routes such as the N1 and N3. Although most EVs can drive for hundreds of kilometres on a single charge, having these facilities at regular intervals on major highways will encourage consumers to buy these vehicles.
The South African government is looking at making new laws to encourage the uptake of EVs over the next 10 years. Legislation such as tax incentives and carbon-emission rebates are some of the ideas available to the government. Norway has implemented similar incentives and has quickly become the poster child of the EV revolution – nearly 60% of all vehicles sold in Norway are now electrified.
Such rebates and sales incentives can actually reduce the price of importing EVs, making them more affordable and appealing to South African buyers. “Today, key government partners, as well as the other automotive manufacturers, are looking to mark a huge step towards realising this electric future, creating a practical solution that benefits businesses and wider society alike,” says Kabelo Rabotho, the marketing director of Nissan South Africa.
EV batteries can be used to power communities
Rabetho also suggests that EVs have a vital role to play in the future of the country, not just in terms of transportation but also thanks to advanced battery technology. “We can now also recycle our batteries and give them a second lease on life as energy stores for electric vehicles, homes, offices, businesses and even remote villages with a smart grid,” he explains.
“This is already taking place here, in South Africa, where ‘second-life’ Nissan Leaf batteries, together with solar panels, are being used to generate sustainable power for learners at Filadelfia Secondary School, in Soshanguve,” says Rabotho. This means that EVs are not just vehicles; they are mobile energy hubs that can make South African cities more environmentally-friendly and carbon-efficient.
EV batteries can be used to feed some power back into the grid when they are not being used, or if demand is high and load-shedding is necessary. This energy can be used to power small homes and certain appliances to allow for daily functioning to continue as usual. This can be an important selling point in a time where state-owned power utilities are struggling to keep up with the high demand for electricity.
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