South Africa’s adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) has been slow by global standards, but it is accelerating, and this year will see more manufacturers introduce EVs to the country, says uYilo eMobility Programme director Hiten Parmar.
The programme is one of the strategic initiatives within the Green Transport Strategy of the national Department of Transport (DoT) that promotes the introduction of EVs and hybrid-electric vehicles.
“The supporting public EV charging infrastructure has progressed since early inception in 2013, with the majority of charge points installed having being supplied from international equipment manufacturers,” said Parmar.
He indicated that, as the local EV market grows, the demand from vehicle manufacturers for a variety of locally manufactured EV charging infrastructure and service providers will increase as well.
“In preparation towards this, there has been specific investment from the uYilo kickstart fund into technology localisation projects, to ensure multiple local technology providers are available and that South Africa is not solely dependent on international suppliers and technologies.”
The South African Automotive Masterplan for 2035 has set out several objectives, including having a localisation rate of 60%. The Department of Trade and Industry under Minister Dr Rob Davies has been clear about its long-term commitment to support the local automotive sector, as well as the benefits of having a deep and diverse supply chain for domestic sourcing.
uYilo kickstart fund investments in specific EV charging infrastructure technology projects include the GridCars alternating current charge point and server in 2014, the MLT Inverters Karoo70 high-voltage inverter for second-life EV batteries in 2015, the Microcare 50 kW direct current EV Fast Charger in 2017 and, in 2018, the QBSoft – EV BackOffice management system.
The total allocation of localisation funding extends across R13.2-million of which R7.7-million has been from the uYilo grant funding, and R5.5-million in co-funding from the specific project developers and related partners.
This funding model has attracted greater participation and commitments towards expanding the local EV ecosystem of technologies. These grassroots investments seek to provide the foundation for the growth of the local EV supply chain for domestic sourcing.
“The uYilo smart grid facility additionally provides a live-testing environment for EV fleets and the related infrastructure ecosystem. At 128 kW total EV charging capacity, it is currently the largest dedicated EV charging and technology advanced facility in Africa, with the inclusion of global technologies of the EV ecosystem,” indicated Parmar.
“This includes solar EV charging, second life EV battery storage systems, BackOffice management, alternating current charge points, direct current fast chargers and the leading vehicle-to-grid technology.”
The DoT’s ‘Green Transport Strategy 2018-2050’ is the first national policy document promoting EV adoption in the country. The Green Transport Strategy contains five implementation themes.
Under the Green Transport Technologies theme, strategic pillar eight is of particular importance. This relates to the promotion of EV and hybrid-electric vehicles.”
Within the strategy, the uYilo eMobility Programme is profiled as a Strategic Initiative towards the development of EV components.
The national uYilo eMobility Programme is an initiative of the Technology Innovation Agency, a public entity of the Department of Science and Technology. The programme operates according to a mandate of enabling, facilitating and mobilising electric mobility in South Africa.
The multistakeholder programme has supporting facilities and expertise across accredited battery testing of lead-acid and lithium-ion technologies, EV systems and the smart grid ecosystem infrastructure for EVs.
The yearly uYilo kickstart fund provides grant funding to encourage local technology development of products, process or services that can advance the South African eMobility industry.