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SA jumps on bandwagon: worldwide EV sales grow by 41% during global pandemic

BMW i8 plug-in hybrid among classic ICE-powered BMWs at BMW Classic Museum

BMW i8 plug-in hybrid among classic ICE-powered BMWs at BMW Classic Museum

Published May 4, 2021


JOHANNESBURG – South Africa ranked fifth globally in the ratio of public electric vehicle (EV) chargers to electric vehicles in 2020. Only Korea, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia and the Netherlands have more chargers per EV than SA, according to the IEA Global EV Outlook 2021 report released recently.

February 2021 saw BEV (battery-electric vehicle) registrations overtake those of PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) registrations locally.

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The milestone marks the advancements of battery technology in the EV space and growing local consumer confidence in the range offered in newer generation BEV’s with less reliance on ICE (internal combustion engine) hybrid technology.

In the same month, SA also had its first registration of a plug-in hybrid Ferrari, the SF90.

SA’s first Ferrari SF90 plug-in hybrid was registered in February 2021

The IEA (International Energy Agency) has published the Global EV Outlook annually since 2013. Its latest report profiles 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads at the end of 2020.

A highlight of the latest report is that EV sales jumped by 41% in 2020, despite the pandemic-related worldwide downturn in car sales. Global car sales dropped 6% – and the trajectory is expected to continue, with the first sales quarter of 2021 following the trend.

“Electric vehicle adoption remains key within automotive market developments while also decarbonising the transport sector,” says uYilo eMobility programme director Hiten Parmar.

“It is clear that South Africa’s EV charging infrastructure has a good footprint for now, based on the low volume of EVs in the country. However greater policy implementation is the next step to improve wider eMobility adoption.”

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Many statements on the electric vehicle market were made during the release of the latest IEA Global EV Outlook. Last year, electric vehicle sales grew to 3% of the World Vehicle Market as governments and large industries increasingly brought forward their long-term environmental and net-zero goals.

Half of the global stock of EVs can be found in China, but in 2020 the largest increase in EV sales occurred in Europe, overtaking Chinese EV adoption for the first time.

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In the US and China, government spending on eMobility decreased but was increased in Europe in 2020, a year which also saw a 41% increase in the number of vehicle models available as an EV.

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Pure EV, or BEV (battery electric vehicles), are in the majority in terms of availability, with larger vehicles being most often PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles).

In terms of driving range, there has been an increase in range in every new model since 2015, with 2020 indicating the start of a plateau with range settling around 350km.

Both two- and three-wheeler EVs, buses and heavy trucks are most prolific in the Chinese market while vans enjoy a far wider global market distribution.

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The worldwide EV fleet is projected to grow from 11 million vehicles to around 145 million in the next decade, and the demand for automotive batteries 20-fold from current levels by 2030.

2021 MINI Cooper SE is currently SA’s cheapest electric car

Government policy is a key element in accelerating EV adoption, both in terms of the 2020 sales growth and setting the trend for the next decade.

The IEA has indicated that the organisation will set out a roadmap for the entire energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Current trends, although increasing, will not attain this goal.