South Africa Needs Cheaper Electric Cars ASAP!

South Africa’s Autotrader Car Industry Report Mid-Year Report January 2022 – June 2022  has just been released. In the first 6 months of this year, 349 million searches for vehicles were conducted on Autotrader’s website. There were 163 million consumer advert views and the average time on the site was 5 minutes and 50 seconds. The average mileage of the cars on the site was 77,147 km, with an average price of R423,964 ($25,000). The average year model for vehicles listed on the platform was 2017. In 2022 so far, EVs were listed 141 times, registering an average price of R1,870,721 ($111,000) as well as a mileage of 21,313 km. The average year model was 2020. The most available models were the BMW i3, Porsche Taycan, and the Audi e-tron.

The report also states that there has been a 27% increase year-on-year of car shoppers utilizing the fuel-type filter. In the past, the fuel-type was a secondary search filter mostly used by car shoppers looking into buying pickup trucks. This increase could be attributed to the skyrocketing petrol and diesel prices. In the first half of 2022, hybrid and electric fuel type searches increased by 129% and 100% respectively, signifying a strong growth in interest in electric cars in South Africa. Diesel and petrol fuel type searches were up a more modest 24% and 26% respectively. The reports say that it is very important to note that this sharp increase in searches for electric vehicles is from a much smaller base than the traditional fuel-types of petrol and diesel. The most searched EV in South Africa was the Audi RS e-tron GT followed by the BMW i3, the Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron, and the Audi e-tron GT.

A survey included in last year’s report showed that over 70% of South Africans would be interested in switching to electric if they had the option to buy an electric vehicle that costs less than R500,000 ($30,000). But as we can see from the prices of the top 10 most listed electric cars, only one of them is priced below R500,000, a 7-year-old Nissan Leaf for R385,000. This is a first generation Nissan Leaf. Nissan has since stopped offering the Nissan Leaf in this market. The most listed electric vehicle is the BMW i3, for R667 000. The majority of EVs available on the South African market are from premium brands with models that start at well over US$100,000 equivalent. These vehicles will still be quite pricey when they eventually land on the used vehicle market. There is an $86,000 difference in the average pricing between ICE vehicles ($25,000) and EVs ($111,000).

Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in South Africa have been quite slow over the years. The table below shows EV sales over the past 6 years.   South Africa desperately needs more affordable vehicles to get more people driving electric.

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Source: naamsa/Lightstone Auto

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Source: naamsa/Lightstone Auto

Let’s hope more affordable EVs will be on the way soon. There are now more right-hand drive models available in places such as Australia. The BYD Atto 3 and the MG ZS EV are some examples of these. The new MG 4 hatchback is coming to the United Kingdom and starts at around £25,000, which is just about R500,000! Will we see these models come to South Africa soon?

Charts from South Africa’s Autotrader Car Industry Report Mid-Year Report January 2022 – June 2022


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