Worst provinces to visit when driving an electric car in South Africa

Although South Africa’s electric vehicle (EV) charging network has expanded rapidly in the past few years, venturing into some more remote parts of the country with an EV might prove challenging.

South Africa has seen a flurry of new electric cars hit the market in the past few years, including major manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.

As a result, sales of fully-electric vehicles in South Africa more than doubled each year from 2018, not accounting for the dip in 2020 experienced due to the Covid–19 pandemic.

That increase has resulted in greater demand for public charging stations where customers can top up their batteries while shopping or getting something to eat.

MyBroadband analysed an online map showing the locations of the biggest electric vehicle charging company in South Africa — GridCars.

GridCars was founded in 2009 and was acquired by JSE-listed Aliviva Holdings through its subsidiary SolarEff.

It punts itself as an independent authority on electric vehicle charging service equipment and charging station infrastructure.

Among its initiatives, GridCars has partnered with companies like Audi and BMW to roll out public charging stations to ensure drivers of their EVs can keep their batteries topped up, particularly along the main long-distance routers.

At the time of publication, its online map showed the locations of over 350 electric vehicle charging points across the country, as well as at two locations in Botswana and Namibia.

Screenshot of the GridCars EV charging station map.

In some cases, more than one charging point was available at a particular station. A manual count of the stations came to a total of 280 within South Africa’s borders.

That is over 419% higher — or five times more than what was available in December 2019.

The substantial increase is even more noteworthy given that two of the roughly three-and-a-half years since then were marred by the Covid–19 pandemic.

However, it was noteworthy that the charging stations were concentrated primarily in the three most populous provinces of Gauteng, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.

These accounted for around 82% of the country’s charging stations.

150kW Audi-branded EV charging station in Mossel Bay, operated by GridCars.

On the flip side, Limpopo, Northern Cape, and the North West were the provinces with the lowest number of charging stations.

Limpopo and the Northern Cape had just three GridCars public charging stations each, while the North West had seven.

Although these provinces are among the less populated in the country, they have several popular tourist destinations that appeal to more adventurous travellers.

EV owners can charge their cars via a standard electric outlet, but that will most likely have to be done overnight when travelling to some of these popular tourist spots.

Buildings with single-phase connections can support up to 7kW output, while larger triple-phase buildings can go up to 22kW.

With 7kW, the most common output, it would take well over 6 hours or more to charge a battery from empty to full. If the charging is interrupted by load-shedding, it will take even longer.

Electric vehicle charging station locations in South Africa — by province
Province AC public charging stations
(slow charging up to 32kW)
DC public charging stations
(rapid charging up to 200kW)
Total
Gauteng 101 40 141
Western Cape 40 21 61
KwaZulu-Natal 14 14 28
Eastern Cape 9 6 15
Mpumalanga 8 5 13
Free State 3 6 9
North West 5 2 7
Northern Cape 0 3 3
Limpopo 2 1 3
Total 280

To illustrate a scenario in which an EV driver might find themselves in South Africa, you can take the northern parts of the Kruger National Park that fall within Limpopo province as an example of a planned destination.

If a traveller wishes to travel to Shingwedzi Camp in the Kruger from Gauteng, their last public EV charging station will be at the Mall of Africa in Polokwane. This is approximately 252km from Shingwedzi.

Many EVs sold in South Africa can cover that distance on a single charge.

However, you will have to top up the battery at the camp if you want to do some self-drive game-watching or if you plan to return via the same route.

MyBroadband previously found the owner of a Jaguar i-Pace charging their car via the standard outlet from one of the camp’s chalets.

Filling that vehicle’s battery from 0 to 100% will take about 13 hours with 7kW AC charging, so an overnight stop would be highly recommended.

Day trips would be easier in the southern part of Kruger, which falls in Mpumalanga. Here, there are several EV charging stations within about 80km of a park gate.


Now read: South Africa must urgently take a stand on electric cars

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Recommended

Share this article
Worst provinces to visit when driving an electric car in South Africa