265,970 vehicles were sold in South Africa from January to June this year. Of these, 501 were full battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). That means just 0.2% of all the vehicles registered in the first 6 months of the year in South Africa were fully electric. This may look like a small number, and it is, but it is pretty impressive given the fact that only about 7 OEMs currently sell their BEVs in South Africa and the majority of them are the more premium models that sell for well over R1 million ($56,750). South Africa also places an exorbitant import duty on BEVs, including a “luxury tax,” which means BEVs pay much higher import duties than internal combustion engine vehicles.
In the whole of 2022, 502 BEVs were registered in South Africa. Now that number has been matched in just 6 months of this year, meaning we are well on course to see the number of BEVs registered in South Africa this year to at least double. Here is the breakdown of the registrations by brand:
BMW continues to dominate the sales charts in South Africa with models like the iX3 and the iX. MINI, also from the BMW Group, is also continuing its steady progress, as well as Volvo with its XC40 and C40 BEVs. Mercedes and Audi round up the top 5. The KIA and GWM models listed here are probably demo models as they are yet to start deliveries in South Africa. GWM’s Ora Good Cat has been confirmed to go on sale in South Africa later this year, but no word yet from KIA.
The jump in EV sales in the first six months of the year, in a year in which electricity rationing has been the worst ever in South Africa’s history, shows that load-shedding is probably not the main concern for EV buyers in South Africa. It’s great to see EV sales growing big time in South Africa, albeit from a very small base.
In fact, AutoTrader South Africa’s Buyer Survey showed that there were other concerns on potential EV buyers’ minds. 65.4% of the respondents say that the high initial cost of purchase is the main concern. Duration of charging, as well as the perceived lack of public charging infrastructure, were the other major concerns. It was interesting to note that although range anxiety was further down the list with 20.9% saying it was one of the main concerns, 37% said they would want an EV with a range of 500 to 700 km per charge. A 700 km range is Mercedes-Benz EQS territory and there are not many affordable EVs with that kind of range.
It’s really good to see EV sales in South Africa are on the up. Could 2023 be the year BEV sales breach the 1,000 mark? It looks like it. South Africa really needs more BEV models to be made available, especially the more affordable ones. The good news is more affordable BEVs are on the way, such as the recently launched BYD Atto 3, which will start from below R800,000.
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