Whether it’s concerns about operational range or a lack of infrastructure, many South African drivers feel tentative about purchasing an electric vehicle.
Automakers are steadily moving towards electric vehicles as the technology behind them improves, and hybrids are becoming increasingly common on roads around the world.
VW, for example, has stated that it will have 300 electric car models by 2030, signifying a shift towards the adoption of electric vehicles.
However, while they offer great economy and features, are electric cars suitable for South Africans?
MyBroadband spoke to BMW South Africa about the success it has seen with its electric vehicles and why they are a viable option for local motorists.
BMW said that demand for electric vehicles is strong, at it expected growth to continue in South Africa and around the world.
“Since the launch of the BMW i sub-brand in South Africa in 2015, BMW Group South Africa has delivered more than 600 BMW i3 and i8 vehicles to customers,” BMW told MyBroadband.
“In terms of current global figures, in 2017 we sold more than 100,000 electrified vehicles and in 2018 we reached our goal of selling over 140,000 electrified vehicles – yet again confirming the company’s position as a leading global provider of premium electrified mobility.”
BMW said that by the end of 2019, it will have a combined 500,000 electrified vehicles on the road, and in 2025 it will offer at least 25 electrified vehicles – half of which will be full-electric with the rest being plug-in hybrids.
“Since 2015, when we introduced the future-oriented i3 and i8 models into South Africa, they have been a constant and growing presence on local roads,” BMW said.
“They remain the market leaders in their respective segments in South Africa and we remain committed to providing electric vehicles to this country.”
The carmaker will also bring an upgraded BMW i3 model to South Africa in the near future.
“Locally, we will shortly launch the i3 with a bigger battery pack that will have a full electric range of around 260km,” BMW said.
Reasons to go electric
BMW’s electric vehicle product offering in South Africa includes home charging with the optional BMW i Wallbox, charging at ChargeNow public charging stations, and assistance services designed specifically for BMW’s electric range.
This offer provides comfort to South Africans who are worried about potential support issues for their electric vehicles.
It is also import to note the benefits of owning an electric car over a petrol-powered vehicle.
“Even in an energy-scarce country such as ours where electric vehicles have not been shown to have a significant drain on the power supply, EVs remain a viable vehicle option for South African drivers,” BMW said.
“The fully-electric i3 can be charged via a standard household plug when a ChargeNow station is unavailable.”
This can lead to costs savings for owners. For example, the typical kWh electricity tariff in a northern Johannesburg suburb is R1.35 per kWh. BMW’s i3 electric vehicle needs around 13.4kWh per 100km, which means its cost to run per 100km is R18.09.
“If you compare this with the cost of a highly-efficient diesel engine used in city or urban areas, which needs roughly six litres per 100kms, you will get a different picture,” BMW said.
“A BMW i3 is roughly four times cheaper to run than an internal combustion engine-powered vehicle.”
Government and infrastructure
The company did acknowledge that there has been very little government support for electric vehicles, however, but it is confident this will change in the coming years.
“We expect electric car infrastructure to continue expanding locally,” BMW said.
“BMW currently has 57 ChargeNow charging stations in South Africa, with six being shared with Nissan as part of the companies’ original memorandum of understanding, signed in 2015.”
BMW said it planned to add an additional 30 ChargeNow stations to the South African network by the end of 2019. These stations can be accessed using a ChargeNow card at no costs to owners.