What it costs to drive across South Africa in an electric car

Multiple major manufacturers – including Volkswagen and Ford – have invested heavily in electric vehicles, with several new fully-electric models set to launch in the coming years.

In South Africa, however, the electric vehicle industry has been hamstrung by exorbitant import fees, a lack of government support, and uncertainty over its value proposition.

Another major point of concern in convincing the public is the issue of range anxiety – the fear that one might run out of battery power before reaching the next charging station.

South Africa’s charging infrastructure is still very limited, which may leave many wondering if an electric vehicle is a feasible option for getting around – particularly over long distances.

There are three fully-electric models currently in South Africa – the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and Jaguar i-Pace.

Of these three models, the i-Pace has the biggest battery (90kW) and highest WLTP-rated range of 470 km, and an EPA-rated range of 377 km.

The battery can be charged via the CSS standard Rapid Charging plugs or a standard Type 2 connector at home.

On its website, Jaguar South Africa provides estimated maximum ranges based on outdoor temperature, weather, and use of air conditioning for the i-Pace.

While travelling with the aircon turned off and an average temperature of 20 degrees celsius, it indicates the maximum range in various environments as follows:

  • Urban – 439km (average speed of 27km/h)
  • Motorways – 300km (average speed of 92km/h)
  • Combined – 378km (average speed of 47km/h)

The entry-level i-Pace S is priced at R1,687,200.

Charging station network

Jaguar-Land Rover and GridCars have rolled out a network of electric vehicle stations across South Africa.

An interactive map is available online which shows the location and the real-time status of these stations.

GridCars states that its 60kW Rapid Charging points will fill the battery of a Jaguar i-Pace from 0-80% in around 72 minutes with a 60kW charger.

Not all stations have these chargers available, however, with certain locations only offering a 30kW or 22kW outlet.

These will take substantially longer to charge your vehicle to between 80% and 100% capacity.

The chargers are shown below.

GridCars Rapid chargers

 


Mapping a route

We used the charging stations indicated on this map, as well as the estimated maximum ranges for the i-Pace to see if it was possible to drive across South Africa without running out of power.

In order to give the i-Pace a fair chance to reach its destination, we assumed our driver was able to maintain the 92km/h average speed needed to achieve a range of 300km on a motorway, since the majority of the route would be undertaken on the N1 and other highways.

We also attempted to keep stops to a minimum by using as much of the battery as possible per trip segment.

Our calculations also assume that the driver is able to use the fastest available charger at the station in every instance.

Our theoretical trip started at the southernmost charging station in the country – Jaguar-Land Rover Constantiaberg in Cape Town – and set off to the northernmost town in the country – Musina.

The table and map below show the stations we would have to stop at along the road from Cape Town to Musina in a Jaguar i-Pace.

Cape Town to Musina in a Jaguar i-Pace
Starting station Range to next station Travel time (at 92km/h) End station Charging time
Jaguar-Land Rover

Constantiaberg 

278km 3 hours Engen 1-Stop

Laingsburg

2 hours 30 minutes (30kW)
Engen 1-Stop

Laingsburg 

201km 2 hours 10 minutes Engen Swartberg

Beaufort West 

1 hour (60kW)
Engen Swartberg

Beaufort West 

 205km 2 hours 13 minutes Drostdy Hotel

 Graaff-Reinet 

1 hour 12 minutes (60kW)
Drostdy Hotel

Graaff-Reinet 

249km 2 hours 42 minutes Gariep A Forever Resort

Gariepdam 

1 hour (60kW)
Gariep A Forever Resort

Gariepdam

181km 1 hour 58 minutes Windmill Casino

Bloemfontein 

1 hour (60kW)
Windmill Casino

Bloemfontein

220km 2 hours 23 minutes Sasol Reitz

Kroonstad 

3 hours (30kW)
Sasol Reitz

Kroonstad 

244km 2 hours 39 minutes Menlyn Maine

Pretoria 

1 hour 30 minutes (60kW)
Menlyn Maine

Pretoria 

272km 2 hours 57 minutes Mall of the North

Polokwane 

1 hour (60kW)
Mall of the North

Polokwane 

 199km 2 hours 10 minutes Musina
Total 2,063km 22 hours 12 minutes 8 stops 12 hours 12 minutes

Jaguar i-Pace route South Africa


No fewer than 8 stops

We found that there was a sufficient number of stations to charge the vehicle without having to fear for running out of power if the driver takes care to plan their trip appropriately.

No fewer than 8 stops would have to be made at the various stations along the route to cover the total distance of 2,064km.

There was one particular hurdle which we had to circumvent on our route, however.

The distance between the Beaufort West stop and the next available station next to the N1 at Colesberg was 313km.

To be safe, we, therefore, had to divert onto the N9 to reach a closer station located at Graaff-Reinet and then proceed back towards the N1.

It should be noted that it would take significantly longer to travel this distance and sufficiently charge the vehicle than it would in a fuel-powered vehicle.

Combining the estimated travel time between all the stops and the time it would take to charge the vehicle at each station, the trip would take around 34 hours, not accounting for the initial charge before setting off.

By comparison, Google Maps estimated the trip would take approximately 21 hours without stops.

As refuelling takes a much shorter time than charging a battery, it is safe to say a petrol or diesel car will arrive in Musina hours before the i-Pace does.


Charging costs

While it would be difficult to calculate the exact cost of charging the EV’s battery pack over this trip, we can make estimates based on the output of the charging stations, charging rates, and the duration of our charges.

The result was surprising, with the total cost coming to R2,594.

A quick calculation showed that this was significantly more than the diesel would cost on a Jaguar F Pace over the same distance.

The table below shows the estimated kW usage and cost per refuel at each station based on the cost per kWh at each station.

Total cost
Station Charge time Estimated use Cost per kWh Total cost
Jaguar Land-Rover, Constantiaberg 8 hours 90kWh R2.02 R181.80
Engen 1-Stop, Laingsburg   2 hours 30 minutes 75kWh R4.41 R330.75
Engen Swartberg, Beaufort West  1 hour 60kWh R4.41 R264.60
Drostdy Hotel, Graaff-Reinet  1 hour 12 minutes 72kWh R4.41 R317.52
Gariep A Forever Resort, Gariepdam 1 hour 60kWh R4.41 R264.60
Windmill Casino, Bloemfontein  1 hour 60kWh R4.41 R264.60
Sasol Reitz, Kroonstad  3 hours 80kWh R4.41 R352.80
Menlyn Maine, Pretoria  1 hour 30 minutes 80kWh R4.41 R352.80
Mall of the North, Polokwane  1 hour 60kWh R4.41 R264.40
Total use 637kWh Total cost R2,593.87

Jaguar i-Pace

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What it costs to drive across South Africa in an electric car