JOHANNESBURG - A technological revolution is bearing down on the automotive industry that is set to dramatically transform the industry globally and in South Africa.
The foundations for this revolution are already in place with electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles to a greater or lesser degree already available in many countries globally and in South Africa.
However, the pace of change and move away from combustion engine propelled vehicles is accelerating.
Many examples of this are already available globally and locally.
Nissan and BMW have been at the forefront of driving a joint initiative over several years now to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in South Africa.
The success of this initiative has been limited in terms of actual electric vehicle sales and attempts by these two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to get the government to agree to incentives for electric vehicles to reduce the retail price has to date received the cold shoulder.
However, South Africa is positioning itself to remain relevant in the global automotive industry as this technological revolution gains traction with provision made in the new Automotive Master Plan (AMP) for electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
Details about the new AMP, which will replace the existing Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) that expires in 2020, were announced in November by trade and industry minister Rob Davies.
Davies said the base Automotive Investment Scheme (AIS) in the APDP would not change in the AMP except for a few amendments.
He confirmed an important element of one of the amendments was “a component to support technological transformation”.
“We know that the world is going towards electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles and South Africa cannot afford to simply be the producer of gas guzzlers that are declining [in sales].
“We need to also position ourselves to be manufacturers of vehicles with different power trains . There will be a Technology Automotive Investment Scheme and this will be targeted at power train and telematics investments. Power trains that drive the vehicles,” he said.
Davies said in terms of the Technology Automotive Investment Scheme, there would be 20 percent additional support in the form of an allowance on corporate income tax that was payable.
“The final make up of that and the formula for that still has to be finalised with National Treasury but the principle of an additional allowance of 20 percent has been agreed,” he said.
In September, Jaguar in conjunction with electric vehicle charging authority Gridcars, announced a R30 million infrastructure investment in the installation of 82 new public charging stations in South Africa’s major hubs and along frequently-travelled holiday routes.
The entire Jaguar charging grid and Powerway was scheduled to be operational by the end of November and would supplement other charging infrastructure in South Africa, including public charging infrastructure installed by Nissan and BMW.
Richard Gouverneur, the managing director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa, said in September these charging stations would lay the foundation for the future of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in South Africa.
"As Jaguar we are proud to be setting the pace for the new generation of electric vehicles in South Africa. The launch of the Jaguar Powerway demonstrates our commitment to electrification technology and the future of mobility in our market,” he said.
Gouverneur said the new network would provide peace of mind to customers of the Jaguar I-PACE, which was scheduled to be launched into the domestic market early this year  and had a range of up to 470km depending on driving style and conditions on a single charge.
The majority of charging stations on the public network would be 60kWh fast chargers, which meant 100km of range would take around 20 minutes for Jaguar I-PACE owners.
A charge from 0 to 80% will take around 72 minutes.
MyBroadbank reported last month [December] that South African Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, had stated on Twitter that Tesla would “probably” open a dealership in South Africa at the end of this year  but provided no additional information on the availability of Tesla vehicles in South Africa.
The BMW Group and Daimler AG reported last month [December] from Germany that they were planning the next steps for their joint mobility company following the approval by the United States competition authorities for a new joint venture that would be owned equally by the BMW Group and Daimler AG.
They said the joint venture would focus on ensuring the personal freedom of customers in the field of urban mobility, adding the new mobility offering would be created that was easy to access, intuitive and focused on the needs of the user.
Customers would move through a seamlessly connected and sustainable ecosystem that combined CarSharing, Ride-Hailing, Charging and Multimodality from a single source and was available with just a few taps, they said.
“The idea is to create the most attractive, most comprehensive mobility solution for a better life in our connected world,” they added.
Following the approval of the US competition authorities, the goal of BMW Group and Daimler AG was to close the transaction by the end of this month [January].
“Once this major transaction closes, the new mobility company will present the next steps in the first quarter of 2019, in conjunction with the BMW Group and Daimler AG,” they said.
BMW Group and Daimler AG provide a breakdown of the various activities and services that would be provided by the joint venture.
Multimodal and on-demand mobility with moovel and ReachNow , with more than 6-million users benefiting from intelligent and seamless connectivity between different mobility offerings, such as carsharing, bike rental, taxis and public transport, including booking and payment.
They said the multimodal platform would also offer possible solutions for the needs of urban private transport, including providing cars as a service.
CarSharing would be provided via Car2Go and DriveNow, which operate a total of 20 000 vehicles in 30 major international cities.
They stressed that more than 4-million customers used these carsharing services, which enabled better utilisation of vehicles, thereby reducing the total number of vehicles in cities.
Ride-Hailing would be provided by mytaxi , Chauffeur Prive [accent on the ‘e’ in Prive], Clever Taxi and Beat, with a total 15.9 million customers and about 250 000 drivers already using these services, which made Intelligent Apps GmbH one of the leading ride-hailing providers in Europe and South America.
BMW Group and Daimler AG said innovative offers, such as maytaximatch , allowed people who did not know each other to share a taxi at the tap of a finger and made an important contribution to reducing inner city traffic.
Parking with ParkNow and Parkmobile Group/Parkmobile LLC provides ticketless, cashless on-street parking or help with reserving and paying for off-street parking in a garage.
They said Parkmobile already reached a total of more than 27-million customers in Europe and North America and offered digital parking solutions in more than 1 100 cities.
“Innovative digital parking services reduce the time and amount of driving involved in finding a parking space. This reduces traffic significantly as cars searching for parking spaces currently account for around 30 percent of road traffic,” they said.
Charging with ChargeNow and Digital Charging Solutions provides easy access, including location, charging and payment, to what they claim is the world’s largest network of public charging stations.
“Combined with parking privileges in cities, this will support the expansion of electromobility by help people integrate this drive technology more easily into their mobility needs,” they said.