The cumulative number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sold in South Africa since 2013 has reached only 637 units by the end of 2020, says uYilo eMobility Programme director Hiten Parmar.
The BMW i3 leads the market by a substantial margin, at 445 vehicles, followed by the Nissan Leaf, at 94 units, and the Jaguar I-Pace, at 61 units.
The number of plug-in hybrids sold in the country since 2015 has reached 653 units, with BMW again leading the pack, with 315 unit sales of the i8. This is followed by the Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid, at 206 units, and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, at 37 units.
Sales of hybrid vehicles in South Africa look a little bit healthier, and have reached 5 077 units since 2005, with the Toyota Prius in the number one spot, with sales of 1 171 units, followed by the Lexus RX, at 614 units, and the Toyota Auris, at 448 units.
These types of alternative drive vehicles are collectively classified as electrified vehicles.
“They are still in a minority – somewhere in the region of 0.001% of our total car parc of 12-million vehicles in the country,” says Parmar.
He says South Africa manufactures only one electrified vehicle model in South Africa, and that is a C-Class hybrid made at the Mercedes-Benz South Africa plant, in East London.
Toyota South Africa Motors has also, however, announced the start of hybrid production at its Durban plant this year.
“Those have been the only developments, to date, in terms of electric and alternative vehicle technology production, and we hope we see a policy change in terms of promoting localisation.
“We have seen a lot happening in the last 12 months, both in government and industry, in terms of unlocking the development of this industry.”
Parmar says there have been discussions between the local auto industry, in the form of Naamsa | The Automotive Business Council, and government around changing government’s automotive manufacturing incentive programme to drive the local production of electrified vehicles.
He emphasises that the electric vehicle “ship has started to sail” and that South Africa needs to “get its ducks in a row” to launch a collaborative effort to advance the new drive train technology locally, especially in light of what is happening on a global level.
While the number of electric vehicle models introduced to the European market numbered just over 50 in 2018, this will jump to more than 200 this year, notes Parmar.
The cumulative number of countries that have announced the phase-out of internal combustion engines is also increasing, he adds.
The number currently stands at 44, which includes 14 national governments and 30 regional and municipal governments.
Norway has, for example, five years remaining until its announced phase-out date, while countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, The Netherlands and Sweden have ten years remaining.
The national uYilo eMobility Programme was established in 2013 as a multistakeholder, collaborative programme focused on enabling, facilitating and mobilising electric mobility in South Africa. uYilo is an initiative of the Technology Innovation Agency, an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation.
* Parmar spoke at a Transport Forum event.