What happens to electric car owners when load-shedding hits

Load-shedding has become a regular frustration for all South Africans, but it must be especially loathed by locals who have electric cars.

Many electric car users charge their vehicles overnight at home, but this could be disrupted by load-shedding – not to mention the issues brought on by power surges.

With no end in sight to the rolling blackouts plaguing the country, things therefore look grim for electric car owners.

However, there are a number of ways around this problem and the infrastructure established by manufacturers in South Africa has been built to be resilient to Eskom’s failure to deliver power.

MyBroadband spoke to BMW South Africa about the effect of load-shedding on electric car owners and the company’s charging infrastructure which mitigates this.

Home charging

When it comes to charging your vehicle at home, load-shedding is undoubtedly a pain.

BMW South Africa therefore recommends that electric vehicle owners charge their cars whenever they are not in use.

“The recommendation for owners and drivers of EVs is to charge the vehicle whenever it is not in use – whether it is stationary for 10 minutes or three hours,” a BMW spokesperson told MyBroadband.

In the event that a driver does become stranded due to load-shedding, BMW has a fallback plan for its customers.

“When in a pinch, customers have access to BMW On Call, our 24-hour emergency customer technical services provider.”

“BMW On Call will transport the car on a flatbed to the nearest charging facility with power, or any location that is convenient to the client, should the battery pack be depleted or low on power,” the company said.

This means that in a worst-case scenario where your car has died, you can always call BMW to get you to the nearest charging station.

Charging stations

Another major concern for electric vehicle drivers is the availability of charging stations during load-shedding.

BMW told MyBroadband that all of its dealerships are equipped with backup power.

“All BMW dealerships are equipped with generators to provide power in the event of a loss of electricity supply,” the company said.

“The 38 ChargeNow stations at BMW dealerships are accessible to electric vehicle drivers, even during periods of planned or unplanned power outages.”

The power to most of these charging stations is supplemented by either generators or electricity generated from solar panels.

“BMW Group South Africa also offers an innovative solar carport solution for fleet and corporate clients who are interested in a green energy-creation solution,” the company said.

With regards to the current load-shedding crisis in South Africa, BMW said it remains optimistic that the issue will soon be resolved and said it will play its part in taking pressure off the grid.

“As BMW Group South Africa we are committed to supporting the growth of the electric vehicle segment in this country.”

“We will continue to honour our commitment with an increased range of electrified vehicles,” BMW said.

“You might recall that we have committed to at least 25 electric vehicles globally by 2025, of which half will be full-electric and the rest will be plug-in hybrids.”

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What happens to electric car owners when load-shedding hits