All the electric cars under R1 million in South Africa

There are four passenger electric vehicles (EVs) available in South Africa for new car buyers with a budget of R1 million.

The world’s first mass-produced EV and the first to go on sale in South Africa — the Nissan Leaf — launched at R446,000 in October 2013.

While that number might not seem all that high in light of car prices today, it was considerable at the time, especially considering its limited maximum range of 195km.

According to Top Auto, the starting price of a Toyota Hilux in July 2013 was R189,500, while an entry-level Volkswagen Polo cost R165,300 by September 2013.

For the price of one Leaf, you could have bought both these cars and had around R100,000 left.

Adjusting the Leaf’s price for inflation, not including the impact of the weakened rand, would see it costing around R748,150 in 2024.

The first-generation Nissan Leaf was South Africa’s first passenger EV.

The second passenger EV to arrive in South Africa, the BMW i3, was priced at R525,000 at its local launch in 2015.

It proved to be more popular and sold much better than the Leaf.

Adjusting the BMW i3’s launch price in 2015 for inflation comes to R819,144 in 2024.

The Leaf and i3 have since been discontinued as manufacturers moved on to models with vastly improved range, faster charging speeds, and better performance.

However, the i3 has remained popular in the used car market, placing second overall in AutoTrader’s used EV sales in 2023.

BMW i3

The first batch of “second wave” EVs that were brought into South Africa in significant numbers in more recent years were primarily aimed at the luxury or high-performance markets and priced well over R1 million.

The first among them was Jaguar’s i-Pace, which launched with a starting price of about R1.69 million in late 2018.

Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Porsche followed with numerous models priced from R1.1 million to more than R5 million.

For several years, the only fully electric car in the country selling for under R1 million was the Mini Cooper SE.

The latest version of this model sold in South Africa offers up to 234km of range on a single charge and boasts 135kW of peak output and 270Nm torque.

The model is due for a refresh during the course of the year, but its pricing remains to be confirmed.

2024 Mini Cooper SE model coming to South Africa

From around mid-2023, three more options have become available, and all of them are bigger, offer better range, and have cheaper entry-level price points than the Mini.

The most affordable is GWM’s Ora 03 — previously called the Ora Funky Cat — which can be had starting from R686,950.

The cheapest model in South Africa boasts a range of up to 310km with 126kW power and 250Nm torque. It can go from zero to 100km/h in roughly 9.3 seconds.

The second most affordable model is the BYD Atto 3 compact SUV, which carries a price tag starting from R768,000.

It offers an output of up to 150kW and 310Nm torque, with 0–100km/h acceleration in 7.3 seconds.

The Chinese automotive giant is also set to launch its Dolphin hatchback in South Africa this year and possibly the smaller Dolphin Mini too.

The former is expected to go on sale for around R550,000, which would add to the options under R1 million.

BYD Dolphin

The most recent sub-R1 million entry in the market — the Volvo EX30 — offers the most punch of the bunch.

Even its entry-level Core Single Motor variant boasts 200kW and 343Nm of torque, making it the most powerful car overall for less than R800,000 in South Africa.

The dual-motor variant packs a hefty 315kW of power output and 543Nm torque, making it the most powerful car for less than R1,000,000 in South Africa.

In fact, the closest-performing petrol-powered vehicle  — the Ford Mustang 5.0 GT — is over R140,000 more expensive. It is also around a second slower in its 0-100km/h acceleration.

Overall, EVs are incredibly price-competitive with petrol or diesel models when it comes to kW- or Nm-per rand.

Below are the four EVs you can buy new in South Africa for less than R1 million in April 2024. The specifications listed are for the most affordable models.

GWM Ora 03 — R686,950 to R835,950

  • Engine power/torque: 126kW/250Nm
  • 0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds
  • Range: Up to 310km (300 Super Luxury — WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 60kW DC or 6.6kW AC

BYD Atto 3 — R768,000 to R835,000

  • Engine power/torque: 150kW/310Nm
  • 0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds
  • Range: Up to 345km (Standard range — WLTP)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 7.4kW AC and 88kW DC

Volvo EX30 — R775,900 to R995,900

  • Engine power/torque: 200kW/343Nm (Core Single Motor)
  • 0-100km/h: 5.7 seconds (Core Single Motor)
  • Range: Up to 282km (Core Single Motor)
  • Maximum charging speeds: 11kW AC and 153kW DC

Mini Cooper SE — R783,500 to R815,200

  • 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

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All the electric cars under R1 million in South Africa