PRETORIA - The good news is that you can drive across South Africa without using a drop of fuel. The bad news is that it will take a while! But nonetheless, a company called Generation.e is staging the country’s first mass road trip for electric vehicles, which set off from the Sun Arena at Time Square, Pretoria on Thursday October 3.

Only three electric cars are currently sold in South Africa - the BMW i3, Jaguar I-Pace and Nissan Leaf, and all three are participating in this electric vehicle road trip, which is powered by ACDC Dynamics and supported by the Department of Transport and African Alliance for Energy Productivity.

The final destination for the road trippers is Cape Town, which will be reached via Bloemfontein, Gariep Dam, Graaff-Reinet, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Worcester. The trip is expected to take six days, although there will be plenty of activities along the way, which the public can participate in.

Here’s how you can join in the fun:

-  Visit the ACDC Dynamics Charging Station launch ceremony at Travel Inn at Shell Ultra City in Kroonstad on October 3 from 2:30pm to 4:00pm.

- Test drive a BMW i3, Nissan Leaf or Jaguar I-Pace at Boardwalk Hotel, Port Elizabeth, on October 5, at 4:30pm to 7pm.

- Learn about the latest innovations in electric mobility by taking a tour of the uYilo eMobility Programme at Nelson Mandela University on October 7 from 8:30am to 11.30am.

- Witness the power of electric vehicles as the road trippers take part in a sun rise Regeneration Challenge at Simola Hill on October 8 from  5:30 to 6:30 am.

- Celebrate the launch of another ACDC Dynamics charging station and enjoy test driving experiences at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town on October 9, from 11am to 4pm.

Making a start

“We know that the technology is ready, and that’s what events this are here to show. We hope that this is the start of many initiatives geared towards driving the adoption of all forms of smarter mobility, including electric vehicles, in South Africa,” said Generation.e CEO Ben Pullen.

“It is for this reason that we are also rolling out electric vehicle charging stations powered by ACDC Dynamics at stops along the way.”

Government support lacking

However, Pullen also acknowledged the electric car elephant in the room, namely the lack of government support such as lowering import tax costs and enabling infrastructure, however, he believes initiatives such as this are still vital for increasing public awareness and education in order to inspire the shift towards smarter mobility.

South Africa’s shoddy power generation capacity and reliance on dirty coal stations are further obstacles in the path of electric mobility in South Africa, but either way electric cars are the future and initiatives like this will no doubt pave the way for greater awareness of both the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead.

IOL Motoring