Changes in the evolution of electro-mobility are happening 10 times faster than in the past 100 years of the automotive industry, Naamsa chief executive Mike Mabasa said on Friday. Photo: File
Changes in the evolution of electro-mobility are happening 10 times faster than in the past 100 years of the automotive industry, Naamsa chief executive Mike Mabasa said on Friday. Photo: File

Auto sector needs to head down the road of electric vehicles fast

By Edward West Time of article published Mar 29, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - THE MODELLING systems of National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) shows that South Africa’s seven vehicle manufacturers might lose about half their current employment of more than 110 000 people over 10 years, and export earnings would decline to about R40 billion a year, from R200bn in 2019, if vehicle manufacturers did not begin preparing for and participating in the electro-mobility revolution.

Changes in the evolution of electro-mobility are happening 10 times faster than in the past 100 years of the automotive industry, Naamsa chief executive Mike Mabasa said on Friday.

He said the local industry needed to urgently start transforming in line with global trends if it was not to be left behind.

He spoke at the BRICS Manufacturing Conference held in Sandton. The conference aimed to provide local manufacturers with the opportunity to reflect on how they could grow their businesses using new technologies, and how to leverage off South Africa’s membership of BRICS, and the large markets that are available in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Currently, about 65 percent of all vehicles produced in South Africa are exported, and Europe is the major market.

But Mabasa said that by 2030, an estimated 40 percent of all new vehicles sold in Europe would be electrically powered, and South Africa would need to begin producing these vehicles if it wished to retain its export earnings potential.

He said current global forecasts showed that by 2038, the production of fossil fuel vehicles would be sharply eclipsed by the production of electrically powered vehicles.

Already many countries had laid out timetables over the next 10 to 20 years to ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. The UK, for instance, had recently moved its date for this from 2040, to 2030.

He said that in the evolution of electro-mobility, there were expectations that vehicles would become wi-fi hot spots, and would be electronically linked not only with each other, but with road and highway infrastructure, to enable the simultaneous exchange of information for improved vehicle and passenger safety, vehicle efficiency, and to alleviate traffic congestion.

Mabasa said while many people liked to complain about paying e-tolls, particularly between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and notwithstanding the expansion of the Gautrain between the two cities, South Africa’s e-toll infrastructure represented “cutting edge technology” that would become “a game-changer” in the coming electro-mobility revolution.

He said most of the minerals being used by leading global manufacturers of vehicle batteries currently being used in electrical vehicles were mined in South Africa, and ways needed to found for South Africa to beneficiate these minerals, so that it could become a global supplier of these batteries.

Despite the industrial revolution, 600 million people in the world still did not benefit from mechanisation, and 3 billion people still had no access to clean water, sanitation and electricity, while in the current information and digital revolution, as many as 3.9 billion people still had no access to the internet.

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