DARYL SWANEPOEL: Electric vehicle revolution is taking shape — but slowly in SA

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Transition brings implications for the export market and the Eskom grid

Since the arrival of the combustion engine in SA, it has dictated the development of the country’s landscape: city planning, infrastructure and employment. Today, 13-million vehicles are registered, about one vehicle for every five citizens.

The global electric passenger car stock boomed between 2015 and 2021, with a 43% growth in sales year on year in 2019 and 2020 alone. EVs now constitute 4,6% of all new global vehicle sales, which are expected to grow by 24%-29% over the next decade. If we cannot meet their export vehicle requirements, the country could annually forgo R201bn in exports.— to buy EVs to adhere to climate commitments. This will drive further expansion, with some expecting that EVs will account for 70% of all sales by 2040.The global EV market is gaining traction. Unfortunately, SA is lagging the required development in the EV space, bar some limited pockets of progress.

Despite this, the market is still set for an upswing. More and more vehicle manufacturers are announcing an end to combustion engine vehicles, which will eventually leave consumers with little choice but to acquire an electric vehicle.

While the expansion of the EV market in SA will happen, it is unclear how long it will take to reach a significant level. What is certain is that the switch from internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs is happening at a faster rate in developed countries, many of them SA’s trading partners. This should incentivise the government to actively drive expansion to avoid economic losses.


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