Jaguar electric recharge station at the Harrismith rest area just off the N3. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
CAPE TOWN -  GENERATION.e is set to roll out South Africa’s first electric vehicle (EV) road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town next month.

Chief executive Ben Pullen said the trip would involve establishing charging stations at eight locations.

Some of the charging stations will be at Travel Inn at Shell Ultra City, Kroonstad; de Stijl Gariep Hotel, Gariep Dam; Wolwefontein Hotel, Wolwefontein; and The Vineyard, Newlands, Cape Town.

The charging stations will be powered by ACDC Dynamics. Mario Maio, chief executive at ACDC Dynamics said the network would lay the foundation for mass expansion across South Africa.

Vehicle electricity charging infrastructure will need to grow faster in South Africa as the number of electric vehicles on the road was expected to grow considerably next year, said Pullen.

Globally, the number of electric passenger cars reached 5 million in 2018, up 63 percent from the previous year and in line with this growth, the number of charging points increased 44 percent to about 5.2m at the end of 2018, he said.

However, South Africa was one of the markets that reported a drop in electric vehicle sales between 2017 and 2018.  He said in an interview there were only about 1000 EV cars in SA.

“The question is not really about whether there is demand for EV cars. The problem is that one can only buy a Jaguar I-Pace or BMW i3 at present, both of which are premium priced vehicles. A number of manufacturers however are planning EV vehicle launches next year. It’s about giving more consumers, more choice,” he said.

The Global EV Outlook 2019: Scaling-up the transition to electric mobility report had noted that the growth in EV vehicle usage in South Africa would continue “for many years to come, which presents a clear opportunity for South African businesses and entrepreneurs.”

The report said the EV charging network currently consisted only of 120 publicly accessible charging stations, which were mainly found in Gauteng.

One of the other operators of EV charging points in SA is GridCars, which operates 52 public EV charging points. A GridCars spokesperson said he expected the EV charging network would grow, as they had received numerous enquiries from major oil companies about putting up charge points.

He said a suitable tariff framework and incentives from the government would make EV vehicles more accessible to the public. EV car import tariffs are at 25 percent, while it is 18 percent for cars with full combustion engines.

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