Energy: Electric cars no magic bullet, expert warns
Shell SA recently announced it would be launching the first electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in its retail network this year, starting with a small number and building up as demand grows. A Wheels24 report notes that that same week, the country started once again experiencing widespread power outages. Jeff Osborne of Gumtree Automotive believes that while EVs are a necessary and natural progression for the auto industry, it’s highly unlikely there will significant adoption locally any time soon. ‘Aside from the very obvious supply issues, we don’t have the resources at present and, with more tariff hikes on the cards, electricity is brutally expensive,’ he said. Osborne adds that not only is owning an EV in SA financially challenging, it’s also not necessarily good for the environment either. ‘Plugging an electric vehicle into your home uses an amount of energy equivalent to adding three houses to the grid. This pressure increases should the owner install dedicated electric charging stations to charge more quickly,’ Osborne explained. ‘Because SA uses coal power, an environmentally-unfriendly mode of electricity, there’s little reduction in one’s carbon footprint by driving an electric car. There is some talk of powering charging stations via solar panels, but this is largely untested, as quick charging draws huge currents. An electric car is only as clean as the grid,’ he said.