South Africa to get 150 new electric car charging stations by year-end

Renewable power company Rubicon, in partnership with Audi, has big plans to expand its electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure this year, including adding 150 chargers across the country.

However, it notes that electricity capacity is a challenge under the current energy crisis, which often limits the size of chargers that can be installed.

MyBroadband asked Rubicon and Audi for an update on their EV charging infrastructure plans.

“We are currently building additional charging infrastructure under various initiatives, some for vehicle OEMs, commercial partners and others under the Rubicon programme,” said Rubicon Energy and E-Mobility director Greg Blandford.

“Rubicon will have an additional 150 chargers across South Africa by year-end, which will be a mix of AC and DC fast chargers.”

The addition of 150 new chargers on its network would bring its total number of installed charging stations to 219.

“We currently have 69 charging stations installed across South Africa. We are focused on building a sustainable network with first priority given to sites where renewable energy is available,” said Blandford.

“Our AC charger network is focused on intercity travel such as hotels, B&B’s as well as office parks and shopping centres.”

Audi charging station installed in partnership with GridCars.

However, he noted that energy capacity constraints in South Africa restrict the size of chargers that Rubicon can install.

“Under the current energy crisis, energy capacity has been a challenge, but it has not inhibited the installations, merely restricted the size of charger being installed,” Blandford stated.

Regarding Rubicon’s plans beyond 2023, Blandford said South Africa’s charger network size would grow as more EVs enter the market.

“The more EVs enter the market, the more chargers we will require,” he said. “A bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario.”

In January 2023, Rubicon and Audi announced the installation of 43 EV charging stations across South Africa, including the country’s first 200kW ultra-fast charger.

It quickly became the most popular charging station due to the convenience it provides to EV owners.

“The 200kW charger is currently the most popular charger based on the usage stats,” said Blandford.

“The convenience of charging an EV to 80% in 15 minutes means EV drivers can stop for a coffee and be on their way.”

“The charger at Mall of Africa has been popular with all brands of electric vehicles, and we hope to deploy more of these in future depending on site suitability,” he added.

Rubicon Energy and E-Mobility director Greg Blandford’s vision of the EV charging stations that will support intercity travel in South Africa.

However, Blandford noted that further 200kW ultra-fast charger installations would require more input from Audi.

“Audi is leading the way in South Africa by offering these ultra-fast chargers, and the hope is that more will be seen in the near future,” he said.

Blandford envisions a charging infrastructure supported by solar power and battery energy storage to support intercity travel in South Africa in the future.

“The cost associated with upgrading current electric infrastructure such as underground cables and substations is not feasible,” he said.

“Even if it could be done, we still have availability of electricity supply to contend with, so South Africa’s future will certainly include EV charging with lithium battery storage and some solar offset.”

“As an example, Tesla has large charging networks in the US, with some of these being supported by Tesla Megapacks,” he added.

Blandford shared an image of a Tesla-branded charging station as an example of his vision. It is included above.

Audi told MyBroadband that although it has no specific expansion plans for the near future, it will continually evaluate new opportunities.

“Audi and its partners have invested around R45 million in progressing and growing the EV charging infrastructure over the past two years, with the latest roll-out with Rubicon having deployed 43 additional EV stations countrywide,” it said.

“Audi is committed to the exciting possibilities of sustainable mobility led by electric innovation and understands the role that accessible public EV charging forms as part of EV adoption.”

“The brand will continually evaluate new opportunities to aid in the transition of sustainable mobility in South Africa,” Audi added.

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South Africa to get 150 new electric car charging stations by year-end