With the Tesla Model 3 set to arrive in South Africa next year, is the country ready for electric cars? We will soon find out. What most drivers may not know is that we already have 300 electric cars on South African roads, according to a Mail & Guardian report.
Tesla, a world leader in the design and manufacturing of electric cars, announced in April 2017 that its latest electric vehicle, the Model 3, would soon be available on the South African market. This is big news for South Africa because while our local market already has two all-electric cars: the BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf, this is the first time an electric-only vehicle company is entering the market.
Additionally, the Model 3 is Tesla’s first experiment with a cheaper, mass-market electric vehicle. The introductory price of US$35 000 (about R550 000) before additional fees, is less than half the price of Tesla’s previous models. The Tesla Model 3 can go from 0 to 95 km per hour in under six seconds, and is designed to obtain a five-star safety rating – something Car Insurance companies could take into consideration when calculating an insurance quote.
The costs involved
Sean Pretorius, an insurance broker, said a practical and user-friendly car that is cheaper to run than a petrol-based car will be an attractive option to the local market. He said the undeniable advantage with electric cars is that you save substantially on fuel. “While South Africa has experienced shortages with its power supply, the country hasn’t faced interruptions in a while, and at this stage it shouldn’t impact electric car owners’ ability to charge their vehicles,” he said in a statement.
Pretorius added that even though the rates to charge electric vehicles would be affordable, car owners will have to be mindful of the number of electric vehicle charging stations available. He further pointed out that running costs may also catch consumers out. “Unlike a traditional car – which contains various parts that need to be regularly serviced, such as the alternator, clutch, radiator or fuel pump – an electric car requires less attention but more specialised maintenance due to its advanced technology,” he said.
Repairing and maintaining an electric vehicle can be more expensive due to the vehicle’s expensive and specialist battery system, and the car requires the use of specialised mechanics to service its technology, Pretorius said.
Are more electric cars the future?
South Africa’s submission to the Paris Agreement on climate change states that the country should have more than 2.9 million electric vehicles on the road by 2050, with R6.5 trillion to be invested in the industry over the next four decades. The agreement says going electric will create a huge local industry. Instead of importing fossil fuels, power for vehicles will be generated from solar panels and wind turbines. The power will be reserved in batteries of platinum, a material that South Africa is rich in beyond any other country.
While electric cars remain beyond the reach of many South Africans for the moment, it’s expected that there will come a time where one in every three new car sales in the country will be an electric car.