Top-selling electric cars in South Africa

The Volvo XC40 Recharge was South Africa’s best-selling electric vehicle (EV) in 2023, while BMW was the top-selling EV brand.

That is according to data from the National Automobile Association of South Africa (Naamsa) and Lightstone Auto, as shared by Electric Drive Africa.

2023’s severe load-shedding was not enough to scare off eager EV buyers, with a record 931 new units sold to customers during the year, 85% more than in 2022.

The XC40 Recharge, recently renamed the EX40, led the way for individual models, recording 150 sales during the year.

MyBroadband conducted a long-term review of the XC40 Recharge in late 2023 and was very impressed with the car’s power, handling, comfort, and general useability of an EV for daily driving.

Our only gripe was some minor software issues that those with Android smartphones might experience.

Topping up the XC40 Recharge at a charging station in Pretoria East

Tied for second place were the BMW iX and iX3, each selling 129 units.

These two models were the top performers in BMW’s local EV line-up, which includes the iX1, i4, and i7.

Those three models also featured in the top 10 best sellers and helped push BMW’s total haul for the year to 420, making up 45% of the total EV sales.

If one were to include the 96 sales of BMW-owned Mini’s Cooper SE 3-door hatch, with 96 sales, the company accounted for half of all EVs sold in South Africa.

BMW has a long history of selling EVs in South Africa, dating back to the local launch of the i3 in 2014.

That made it only the second major manufacturer to offer a fully electric car in South Africa, following Nissan’s Leaf.

The compact i3 hatchback was a much bigger commercial success than the Leaf.

BMW i3

While the i3 has also been discontinued, it has proven popular in used car searches on AutoTrader.

BMW has leveraged its reputation as a reliable EV brand to aggressively drive sales in the segment.

In 2023, 15% of its cars sold globally were EVs, and it plans to increase this to 33% by 2026, which would make one in every three new BMWs sold fully electric.

Volvo’s EV sales are also performing well internationally, with a 70% increase in 2023 compared to 2022.

16% of all Volvo cars sold globally last year were electric, up from 10.9% in 2022 and just 3.7% in 2021.

Volvo only had two passenger EV models in South Africa in 2023.

This year, the Swedish firm is launching two new models in South Africa — the small, fast, and competitively-priced EX30 and the 7-seater EX90, its biggest car yet.

The EX30 had already amassed 150 sales two months after first becoming available for pre-order in South Africa, the same as the total number of XC40 Recharge models sold in the entire year.

The table below shows the top EV brands in South Africa by sales.

Top-selling EV brands in South Africa in 2023
Rank and brand EVs sold in 2023 Number of models
1. BMW 420 5
2. Volvo 201 4
3. Mercedes-Benz 99 7
4. Mini 96 1
5. Audi 56 3
6. GWM 18 1
7. Porsche 17 1
8. Jaguar 13 1
9. JAC 12 2
10. Volkswagen 4 1

Several other noteworthy EV models were sold in South Africa during the year.

In addition to its passenger models, Volvo sold 11 of its electric long-haul trucks — two FH models and two FM models — in South Africa. That helped push its total fully electric sales for 2023 to 201.

Regarding smaller cargo carriers, JAC did not perform badly either, selling 12 of its 3-tonne and 4-tonne trucks.

GWM also sold a reasonably impressive 18 units of the GWM Ora hatchback, which only officially launched locally in November 2023.

It outsold the much more established Jaguar i-Pace and Porsche Taycan, likely helped along by its much lower price tag that made it the cheapest passenger EV in South Africa.

Two Kia models that have not officially launched locally — the EV6 and Niro — were also registered in South Africa.

Kia previously said it would bring the EV6 to South Africa in limited numbers, likely initially only for marketing and media-trialling.

Four Volkswagen ID.Buzz vans were also sold during the year.

While also not officially launched to regular consumers, these are shrouded in less mystery, as they are being tested by DHL for their viability as delivery vehicles in partnership with Volkswagen South Africa.

Below are the top 10 best-selling electric cars in South Africa in 2023.


1. Volvo XC40 Recharge (renamed to EX40) — 150 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 175kW/330Nm (Single Motor)
  • 0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds (Single Motor)
  • Range: Up to 423km (Single Motor)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11kW AC and 136kW DC
  • Price: From R1,108,000


2. BMW iX — 129 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 240kW/630Nm (xDrive40)
  • 0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds (xDrive40)
  • Range: Up to 425km (xDrive40)
  • Maximum charging speeds:  11kW AC and 148kW DC
  • Price: From R1,735,000


2. BMW iX3 — 129 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 210kW/400Nm
  • 0-100km/h: 6.8 seconds
  • Range: Up to 460km (WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11kW AC and 155kW DC
  • Price: From R1,361,400
BMW iX3

4. Mini Cooper SE Hatch 3-door — 96 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 135kW/270Nm (hatch 3-door)
  • 0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds (hatch 3-door)
  • Range: Up to 234km (hatch 3-door — WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11KW AC and 49kW DC
  • Price: From R783,500


5. BMW iX1 — 72 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 230kW/494Nm (xDrive 30 xLine)
  • 0-100km/h: 5.6 seconds (xDrive 30 xLine)
  • Range: Up to 440km (xDrive 30 xLine — WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 22kW AC and 130kW DC
  • Price: From R1,205,000


6. BMW i4 — 54 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 210kW/400Nm (eDrive35)
  • 0-100km/h: 6 seconds (eDrive35)
  • Range: Up to 483km (Drive35 — WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11kW AC and 180kW DC
  • Price: From R1,293,300


7. BMW i7 — 36 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 400kW/745Nm (xDrive60)
  • 0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds (xDrive60)
  • Range: Up to 625km (xDrive60 — WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds:  11kW AC and 200kW DC
  • Price: From R2,935,000


8. Volvo C40 Recharge (renamed EC40) — 31 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 300kW/660Nm (Twin Motor)
  • 0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds (Twin Motor)
  • Range: Up to 451km (Twin Motor)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 150kW DC or 11kW AC
  • Price: From R1,324,000


9. Mercedes-Benz EQA — 28 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 140kW/385Nm (EQA250 Progressive)
  • 0-100km/h: 8.9 seconds (EQA250 Progressive)
  • Range: Up to 429km
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11kW AC and 112kW DC
  • Price: From R1,176,350


10. Audi e-tron — 27 sales

  • Engine power/torque: 300kW/664Nm (55 quattro)
  • 0-100km/h: 5.7 seconds (55 quattro)
  • Range: Up to 441km (WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11kW AC and 155kW DC
  • Price: From R1,745,000

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Top-selling electric cars in South Africa