It’s a yes for EVs, shows City of Cape Town study

12th October 2023 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

It’s a yes for EVs, shows City of Cape Town study

The BMW i3

The City of Cape Town has wrapped up a three-year electric vehicle (EV) pilot project, which it says proves the business case for the electrification of municipal vehicle fleets. 

“Battery EV technology paired with renewable energy for charging is a viable mechanism to achieve the city's net-zero emission goal by 2050,” states GreenCape sustainable mobility and energy storage senior analyst Prian Reddy.

GreenCape conducted the case study.

The Cape Town pilot project compared five EVs and five internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with comparable prices and performance figures, in real-world conditions. 

This study ran from 2020 to 2022 in the Traffic Services department, where vehicles typically record high yearly mileage.

The City of Cape Town has a fleet of 9 386 vehicles across various departments.

The fleet had a total on-road fuel consumption of 15.9-million litres of diesel and 6.4-million litres of petrol between October 2021 and October 2022. 

The total cost of on-road refuelling for the fleet during this period was around R465-million. The indicative, total yearly carbon dioxide emissions were 57 314 t.

Cape Town procured five BMW i3 EVs for the study through an open public procurement process.

Six city-owned EV charging stations were installed to facilitate the charging requirements of the vehicles. Two are solar-powered.

The i3s were compared with five VW Golf GTI ICE vehicles to evaluate performance with regards to mileage, energy consumption and range. 

At the time of procurement, in 2020, the BMW i3 was the cheapest electric passenger vehicle on the South African market. (The i3 has, however, since been discontinued.)

The study results, released this months, show that the purchase price plus operational costs of electric passenger vehicles render them more affordable than the ICE equivalents.

Over a period of seven years, the purchase price plus operational costs of the BMW i3 EV was R768 950, which was significantly lower when compared with the VW Golf GTI ICE vehicle, at R1 415 281. 

This indicates a strong business case for the electrification of the 477 hatchback vehicles in the City of Cape Town fleet, should suitable electric models be available on the South African market, states the report.

“Our aim with this pilot project was to eventually have a solid local business case for the electrification of municipal vehicle fleets,” says City of Cape Town corporate services MMC Theresa Uys.

“Municipal fleet managers who are exploring the procurement of EVs for their fleets now also have this case study to refer to and use as part of their business motivations – the greatest incentives of course being to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, improve air quality in our cities and to save on operational costs.”

The study adds that the motivation for EVs becomes much bigger when they are charged with renewable energy.

* Should Cape Town opt to procure EVs, it would be forced to do so on an import basis, as no battery EVs are currently produced in South Africa.