A COUPLE of years ago, Roberto Bruzzaniti and I shared a Jaguar I-Pace on an electric vehicle road trip that started in Pretoria and ended in Cape Town. The trip was a huge success, part of the Electric Vehicle Road Trip (EVRT), that was organised by generation.e.
Bruzzaniti is an electric car adopter who, only a few years ago, started an entire business around EVs in the form of supplying chargers and charging equipment for the home and office. “Since buying my electric car [BMW i3], I haven’t regretted it a single day. I realised that I’m driving less and that for my commuting purposes and daily business needs, my electric car has more than enough range to prevent any anxiety,” he says. “I am so convinced that electric cars are the future that I placed an order for a Tesla Model 3 as soon as orders for South Africa were open a couple of years ago.”
Having experienced numerous electric cars already, I can tell you that the range anxiety that I used to have with EVs is gone. I remember my first test of the Nissan Leaf and the challenges I had with its less than 100km real-world range. These days, SA’s cheapest EV, the MINI Cooper SE offers more than double that range and it’s cheaper than the Leaf was more than 10 years ago.
There’s no denying that the current crop of EVs on sale in South Africa are priced at a premium, but as more manufacturers switch off their ICE engine production lines, you’ll start to see more affordable EVs in South Africa. Volkswagen has already committed to bringing most of its EV line-up to SA, starting with the ID3 and ID4 that arrive as early as next year. Volkswagen says that by 2025, half of its portfolio of new models will only feature electric propulsion technologies.
Whether we like it or not, EVs are the future, and they will cost what they cost, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a grudge purchase. I like to think of EVs as the switch from VHS to DVD and Blu-Ray. The industry will only offer electric cars and that’s what we’re going to have to accept.
There’s more to the conversation around electric cars than just the selling price and the range anxiety, however.
I asked Bruzzaniti to highlight the key reasons why he loves his electric car and why it makes sense as a daily driver for a South African operating a business between Pretoria and Johannesburg. He came up with nine reasons why an electric car might be right for you:
1) Instant pull-away
Electric motors have maximum torque available to them at zero rpm, providing instant pull-away from standstill. This makes EVs fun to drive and often surprises drivers of internal combustion vehicles when they are left behind at the traffic lights.
2) Possibility to use 100% renewable energy
While working from home you can charge your EV from solar energy during the daytime. Ten 330W grid-tied solar panels can provide approximately 100km of EV driving range per day, so you can drive for free.
3) Low maintenance
With an average of 20 moving parts, EVs are much more reliable and far cheaper to maintain compared to the 2 000 parts in an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV). A Tesla recently set a new mileage record of 900 000km.
4) Single pedal driving
The regenerative braking system of an EV comes into play when you lift your foot off the accelerator, eventually bringing the vehicle to a complete stop. Single pedal driving is a unique experience to EVs and convenient in traffic, all the while saving brake pads.
5) No tailpipe emissions
Without an internal combustion engine, an EV has zero tailpipe emissions. Imagine opening your window on a busy road without having to inhale any toxic fumes.
6) Saves you time
It takes 10 seconds to plug in your EV when you get home to charge overnight. Even if your EV has a range of only 200km, you start each day fully charged, with sufficient range for most daily commutes. No more wasting time at the petrol station waiting for your tank to fill up.
7) Regenerate energy on downhills
Conventional vehicles offer zero saving of potential energy when coasting down an incline. An EV uses the potential energy that is created under such driving conditions to charge its battery pack while simultaneously braking.
8) Kind to the environment
Running an EV is kind to the environment as it avoids engine and gearbox oils, so used oils do not end up ruining our natural ecosystems.
9) Saves on fuel running costs
If you are not using renewable energy to charge your EV and you are reliant on grid power to charge at home, the electricity cost of charging is still approximately a quarter of the cost of fuel.
You can contact Bruzzaniti at EV Charge to learn more about home charging solutions and EVs in general if you are interested in making the switch from ICE to electric in the coming months.