South Africa’s electric car sales surge

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa’s (Naamsa’s) quarterly review for Q1 2024 shows a significant increase in new energy vehicle (NEV) sales compared to the same period the year before.

According to its data, 3,042 NEVs were sold in South Africa between January and March 2024, compared to 1,665 vehicles sold during the same period in 2023. This represents an increase of nearly 83%.

NEVs comprise fully electric, plug-in hybrid, and traditional hybrid vehicles.

The latter saw the most significant jump in sales year over year. Between January and March 2023, manufacturers sold 1,408 traditional hybrids.

This figure increased to 2,574 units in the first three months of 2024.

However, plug-in hybrid sales saw the highest proportional growth, increasing from 25 units in Q1 2023 to 138 in Q1 2024 — a more than fivefold increase.

Sales also surged for fully electric vehicles, with 98 more units sold in the first quarter of 2024 than in the first quarter of 2023.

Moreover, total NEV sales during the year’s first quarter equal nearly 40% of all NEV sales during the entirety of 2023.

In South Africa, 3,042 NEV units were sold during Q1 2024, compared to 7,746 during 2023 as a whole, which was already a record year for NEV sales in the country.

“NEV sales breached the 1% for the first time and comprised 1,45% of the total new vehicle market in 2023 compared to 0,88% of total new vehicle sales in 2022,” said Naamsa.

The table below summarises Naamsa’s NEV sales data from 2019 to Q1 2024.

Naamsa NEV sales data
Type Year 2019 Year 2020 Year 2021 Year 2022 Year 2023 Q1: 2023 Q1: 2024
Plug-in hybrid 72 77 51 122 333 25 138
Traditional hybrid 181 155 627 4,050 6,484 1,408 2,574
Electric 154 92 218 502 929 232 330
Total NEVs 407 324 896 4,674 7,746 1,665 3,042

The government incentive for new EV investments in South Africa, announced in February 2024, could go a long way in expanding the NEV options available to South African motorists and enhancing growth in the sector.

“[It] is a crucial step in attracting investments, fostering innovation, and enhancing the growth of the sector within South Africa,” said Naamsa.

“An electric vehicle stimulation policy is something the sector has been working towards for some time.”

During his 2024 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that the National Treasury had reprioritised R964 million over the medium term to support South Africa’s automotive manufacturing industry’s transition to NEVS.

He also announced the incentive, designed to attract investment in South Africa’s vehicle manufacturing industry.

“This will allow producers to claim 150% of qualifying investment spending on electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles within the first year,” said Godongwana.

“The incentive will be implemented in addition to the existing support under the Automotive Production Development Programme (APDP).”

The allowance for new investment into NEV technologies in South Africa begins on 1 March 2026.

However, Godongwana unfortunately did not announce any consumer-centric incentives for purchasing NEVs.

In December 2023, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel released the country’s white paper on EVs, outlining a roadmap and suite of policy interventions to support the transition to NEVs.

The white paper’s first phase focuses on the manufacturing sector and its transition. Phase two of the NEV white paper will prioritise motivating buyers to purchase NEVs.

However, Patel said this is only expected to kick off in roughly seven years.

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South Africa’s electric car sales surge