JOHANNESBURG - While only 1,8% of South Africans have previously owned an electric vehicle (EV), 13% have driven one and a substantial 68% want to own one. This is one of many findings of the Electric Vehicle Buyers Survey, which was conducted by AutoTrader in partnership with Generation.e.
The survey – which gathered 3 100 responses from shoppers on AutoTrader – intends to bridge the gap between consumer perceptions and industry assumptions to assist South African automotive stakeholders such as dealers, manufacturers, marketers and government bodies to drive action-based discussions.
The findings of the survey can be found in the latest bi-annual AutoTrader Car Industry Report, titled #ReBound.
According to George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, the hope is that these insights lead to a tomorrow that is greener, cleaner and mutually beneficial to the South African automotive industry, the South African economy, and most importantly, the South African car buying consumer.
“We found that there is huge potential for the adoption of EVs in South Africa. However, we need to overcome perceived disadvantages – such as the lack of charging infrastructure, charging time and initial purchase cost (which I think is the biggest barrier right now). It’s a little-known fact that South Africa has one of the highest charging stations per EV in the world. We have one charging station per four EVs and the rest of the world has one in 20. Whilst the penetration of EVs is low in South Africa, I can safely say that the charging infrastructure is there!” he notes.
So, the charging infrastructure is, in fact, not a negative. But what of the other perceived disadvantages in the minds of consumers?
Charging time and the initial cost of purchase are the second and third greatest concerns (after charging infrastructure).
Car buying consumers said they are willing to pay not more than R500 000 –and, right now, the cheapest EV costs about R642 000. However, this needs to be offset against running costs – and AutoTrader has calculated that EVs are seven times cheaper to run versus a car with an internal combustion engine.
When it comes to charging time, respondents to the survey said that they would want an EV to charge in four hours at home and within 15 minutes at public charging stations – and neither is currently possible.
Despite these challenges, the survey found an immense interest on the part of consumers when it comes to actually acquiring an EV.
In fact, most South Africans expect to purchase an EV by 2027. Consumers aged 18 to 34 are more likely to purchase an EV after five years whereas those aged +55 are thinking about purchasing an EV within the next three years.
The brand that they’re most likely to purchase is BMW (the survey found it to be the brand car buying consumers are most aware of when it comes to EVs). However, the survey also concluded that – if price and government incentive issues are addressed – we could see the adoption of Tesla “quite quickly” in South Africa.