The 2020 South Africa Electric Vehicle (EV) Car Buyer Survey shows that consumers are ready to buy EVs, and that they are willing to do so in the next five years. However, they want a vehicle that costs less than R500 000 and they want more range and faster charging than is currently the case with existing EVs, says AutoTrader CEO George Mienie.
The cheapest EV currently on the local market costs around R640 000.
The EV survey was conducted by AutoTrader – the biggest digital automotive marketplace in South Africa – and smarter mobility advocacy group Generation.e.
The companies partnered to provide insights into the South African consumer’s perception, expectation, purchase intent, awareness and trust of EVs.
The survey included more than 3 100 respondents, of whom 80% were male and 50% were from Gauteng.
“The survey shines a spotlight on the gap between consumer perceptions and industry assumptions to assist stakeholders such as dealers, manufacturers, marketers and government bodies to drive action-based discussions,” says Mienie.
“The hope is that these insights will lead to a tomorrow that is greener, cleaner and mutually beneficial to the automotive industry, and most importantly, the South African car-buying consumer.”
Mienie says the survey shows that South Africa is still in the starting blocks when it comes to EV adoption, with only 2% of respondents owning an EV and 13% having driven one.
“But EVs will gain in popularity.”
The survey also shows that there remains a level of anxiety around EVs.
“Around 61% of respondents cited charging infrastructure as the biggest disadvantage of EVs, while 60% of respondents also believe charging time is a major disadvantage,” says Mienie.
Surprisingly, only 26% of respondents reported range anxiety as a major disadvantage.
However, respondents were also quite insistent that they would only buy an EV with a relatively long range.
“A total of 39% of respondents said that an EV needs to have a range between 300 km and 500 km for them to consider purchasing one.
“Around 44% of respondents said that they required more than 500 km of range,” says Mienie.
When it comes to price, around 64% of respondents say they would be willing to spend up to R500 000 on an EV.
“However, 67% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay more for an EV upfront, given that running costs were lower than a petrol/diesel vehicle,” says Mienie.
Most significantly, the majority of respondents – a meaningful 68% – said that they were likely or very likely to consider buying an EV in the future.
Only 7% of respondents stated that they were unlikely to consider buying an EV in the future.
“We’re not talking about EV purchases in the distant future either. Around 74% of respondents stated that they would purchase an EV within the next five years,” Mienie notes.
“Over half of the respondents – 56%, to be exact – trust BMW EVs the most, 42% of respondents selected Tesla as the brand they would trust the most (although it is currently not available in South Africa), while 36% of respondents selected Mercedes-Benz,” he adds.