It is critical that the South African government creates an enabling environment for the adoption and uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in South Africa, in order to catch up with global players, says Nissan Africa-Middle East-India connected cars and intelligent mobility coordination regional director Bruno Grippay.
In terms of sales, major room for improvement exists in the adoption of these vehicles in South Africa, he adds.
“This can be realised through the creation of appropriate government policy, incentives, like tax breaks and a reduction of import duties, as well as investment in charging infrastructure.”
Grippay says EVs remains relatively more expensive than normal petrol or diesel vehicles, which is one of the many obstacles to increased market adoption.
By reducing the cost through incentives, pricing can become more attractive, thereby stimulating demand and, thus, adoption.
In turn, increased demand grows volumes and ultimately drives electric charging infrastructure development.
By itself, tariff reductions, as suggested by the automotive industry in South Africa (among other measures), are not enough to drive demand, says Grippay.
“Any tariff reduction on EVs would be an interim measure to help establish market growth. However, tariff reductions may not be enough to stimulate demand. Other incentives and infrastructure development must be combined with enabling legislation in order to successfully fast-track establishment of a local EV market.”
Grippay says Nissan is also working on producing more affordable EVs.
“We have several projects in motion to bring more affordable EVs to market.
“Also, don’t forget that you have to consider the total cost of ownership when comparing EVs to vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs). The cost per kilometre for EVs is already so low compared with ICEs that you are able to recover the gap on the initial price, based upon your driving mileage.”
Range before recharging is also becoming less of a challenge.
The latest Nissan zero-emission vehicle has a range of more than 400 kms.
“We have also developed ePower technology, which is a motor-driven vehicle, same as zero-emission EV, with an internal engine that is used only to recharge the battery, enabling a range of more than 1 300 km,” says Grippay.
“With this technology, the customer can enjoy EV driving conditions – quick acceleration, silence – with no range anxiety.”
The mobility revolution is happening and this is where the future lies, emphasises Grippay.
“It is important that as a country South Africa leads this revolution, or it will be left behind. If South Africa wants to remain at the forefront, continued innovation and development of EV technology is paramount.
“The connectivity in the country and across the continent will develop exponentially in the next few years – if South Africa isn’t developing the technology here, other international challengers will enter and saturate the market.”
One topic not yet raised in South Africa is how EVs can help to improve the country’s air quality, this while cleaner air is the major driver for the EV revolution in the rest of the world.
In time, EVs will help to reduce air pollution, says Grippay.
“I believe that the impact for changing air quality in the city is to fundamentally change the way we move inside the city.
“For example, in some cities, you cannot enter city centres without an electric vehicle, be it a four-wheeler, three-wheeler, a bicycle or even an electric scooter.
“It also relates to reducing congestion, in addition to replacing combustion engines with electric vehicles. These factors combined will significantly reduce air pollution.”