Electric car sales record shattered in South Africa

931 new fully-electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in South Africa during 2023, a new record for the segment.

This number was revealed by Toyota South Africa during its State of the Motoring Industry (SOMI) 2024 address at the Kyalami racing circuit on Thursday, 25 January 2023.

The 931 EVs sold are over 85% more than 2022’s 502 units, surpassing all the fully electric models sold in South Africa from 2020 to 2023 by 119 units.

According to Toyota South Africa, the number of fully electric models available to car buyers increased from eight in 2021 and 17 in 2022 to 31 in 2023.

Consumers are not only getting a wider range of EVs to choose from, but several models are now selling for below R1.5 million, making the fully electric option more accessible.

A BMW iX3 and BMW iX charging at a station in Irene Village Mall’s parking in Centurion.

Overall, South Africa’s sales volumes of new energy vehicles (NEVs) — which includes traditional hybrid (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) — increased by roughly 61%.

6,495 HEVs were sold in the country in 2023, 60% more than the 4,050 units sold in 2022.

These include cars like the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, Honda Fit Hybrid, and Haval Jolion and H6 hybrids.

Despite the jump, the overall share of HEVs in NEV sales volumes decreased from 87% to 84% due to fully electric cars and plug-ins recording bigger increases on a percentage basis.

The proportion of NEV sales that went to fully electric cars increased slightly from 11% to 12%.

PHEVs had a particularly good performance in 2023, with units sold more than doubling from 122 to 267, increasing this type of NEV’s market share from 3% to 4%.

The table below shows EV, HEV, and PHEV sales from 2018 to 2023.

New energy vehicle (NEV) sales in South Africa
Year Fully-electric (EVs/BEVs) Traditional hybrid vehicles (HEVs) Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) Total
2018 58 55 89 202
2019 154 181 72 407
2020 92 155 77 324
2021 218 627 51 896
2022 502 4,050 122 4,764
2023 931 6,495 267 7,693
Latest increase 85% 60% 119% 61%

In the broader market, NEVs accounted for 1.45% of all new cars sold in South Africa in 2023, up from 0.88% in 2022.

At least eight new fully electric cars are confirmed or expected to launch in South Africa in 2024, which could help accelerate sales further.

The sub-R800,000 Volvo EX30 compact SUV will be one of the most affordable options and has seen impressive pre-order demand.

Volvo Car South Africa has been allocated 500 units, of which 150 had already been scooped up by September 2023, two months after pre-orders opened.

It has the option of getting more units if the first batch is sold out.

Should the initial allocation sell as expected, Volvo would have nearly matched the total number of EVs sold in 2022 with just one model.

Other models headed for South African dealerships in 2024 include the much larger Volvo EX90, Audi Q8 e-tron, BYD Dolphin, Fiat 500e, and Mini Countryman SE.

During SOMI 2024, Toyota also confirmed it would be launching its first EVs — the Toyota BZ4X and Lexus RZ — in South Africa in 2025.

Globally, Toyota has invested heavily in new battery technology to improve range and lower price tags over the next few years.

Toyota BZ4X

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Electric car sales record shattered in South Africa