The stations, which resemble petrol pumps without the hoses, can each replenish the batteries of two electric cars simultaneously. Picture: Greg Beadle / Beadlephoto

Cape Town - The V&A Waterfront is set to add two more fast charging stations for electric cars at its Silo Precinct, bringing to five the number of stations where visitors can recharge their electric vehicles free.

In August the Waterfront, together with Nissan and BMW, installed three free fast-charging stations at the popular shopping and tourist attraction.

In 2015, the two car manufacturers signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly roll out charging stations in South Africa.

Each station at the Waterfront has two bays, meaning the three stations can replenish the batteries of six electric cars simultaneously.

They are located in the parking lot outside the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, outside Tasha's Restaurant on Breakwater Boulevard, and in the basement parking near Pick n Pay.

The stations, which resemble petrol pumps without the hoses, will remain free to use for now.

Waterfront's executive manager of operations Colin Devenish said: "We are not charging for the initial rollout. At the moment, you charge while you park."

Devenish said the stations were the first fast-charging locations open to the public at shopping centres in Cape Town, and electric car owners had "definitely picked up on it".

It costs roughly R25 in electricity costs to recharge an electric car, such as the Nissan Leaf, which has a range of about 135km.

Devenish said the Waterfront would consider making a switch to paid charging in the future.

‘Future proof’

Each bay, which is reserved for electric cars, allows people to park for three hours. It takes about two and a half hours to charge the current generation of electric cars available in South Africa, said Devenish.

The stations are linked to "universal chargers", which can recharge electric vehicles such as the Leaf, and the BMW i3 and BW i8.

BMW said the stations were "future proofed".

"These stations will be able to cater for future electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles," it said.

To use the stations, you need to swipe a "recharge card" that is given to buyers of electric vehicles. The card unlocks a flap into which owners can plug their own cables.

In addition the the Waterfront stations, users of electric cars can recharge their cars at fast-charging stations at the four BMW i dealerships in the Western Cape.

Electric cars owners can also use standard three plug points to recharge, but this takes longer.

Cape Town still lags behind major international cities when it comes to fast-charging infrastructure.

London, for example, has more than 1500 fast-charging stations, according to the tracker Zap Map, and more than 500 "rapid" chargers which take just 30 minutes.

Weekend Argus

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