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02-10 October 2019 /  South Africa

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11 May 2019

The roadmap to accelerating EV and smart mobility adoption in South Africa

Rebecca Cooke


 

What are the initiatives, drivers and policies in South Africa to accelerate the adoption of Electric Vehicles and smarter mobility?

This October, Global EVRT is bringing some of the latest and greatest electric vehicles (EVs) to the stunning cities, safaris and coastal roads of South Africa for EVRT Africa and the eMobility Summit Africa. Our journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town is one with purpose. A key outcome of our epic road trip is to accelerate the adoption of EVs and smart mobility in the country.

South Africa's adoption of EVs may have been slow by global standards, but it is accelerating. From a fleet of around 1221 plug-in-electric vehicles at the end of 2018, it is projected that there could be as many as 145 000 EVs on South Africa roads in the next six years.

There are three main areas of influence that can speed up the transition to smart mobility in South Africa: policy, infrastructure and investment. Read on for a break down of the roadmap to aiding the rise of clean vehicles in the country.

There are three main areas of influence that can speed up the transition to smart mobility in South Africa: policy, infrastructure and investment. Read on for a break down of the roadmap to aiding the rise of clean vehicles in the country.

Policy

When it comes to policy making, the good news is there is encouraging existing frameworks in place that put EVs firmly on the map in South Africa.

The national uYilo eMobility Programme, established in 2013, is an initiative of the Technology Innovation Agency to enable, facilitate and mobilise electric mobility in South Africa. As a multi-stakeholder programme, uYilo has various initiatives which include government lobbying, industry engagement, pilot projects, skills development, enterprise development, policy influence and thought leadership.

“We’re hoping that 2019 will bring more EVs to the South African market,” says Hiten Parmar, director of national uYilo eMobility Programme. “As the local EV market grows, the demand from vehicle manufacturers for a variety of locally manufactured EV charging infrastructure and service providers will also increase. In preparations towards this there has been specific investment from the uYilo Kick Start fund into technology localisation projects, to ensure multiple local technology providers are available and that South Africa is not solely dependent on international suppliers and technologies."

uYilo

Global EVRT’s own eMobility Summit also plays a role in policy shaping. The event will create a collaborative space for the latest information in the electric vehicle industry to be shared by Government policy changers, the movers and shakers of the industry and private sector such as manufacturers, infrastructure and renewable energy companies to make the adoption of electric cars a reality.  With over 3,000 visitors, more than 100 speakers 40 exhibitors and 20 Start Ups the summit is a heavy hitter industry event that seeks to affect dynamic change in the future of smart transportation.
 

 

Infrastructure and Investment

As highlighted by Parmar, increasing demand for EVs and smart transport influences are enabled by policy and frameworks that have a domino effect on the sector. It is vital that supporting infrastructure and industry investment increases for the broader transition to EVs and development of local manufacturing across the ecosystem value chain.

Essentially, infrastructure and investment go hand in hand. More investment in EVs and smart transport will accelerate an improve the quality of the infrastructure available which in turn drives further investment in this growing sector.

South Africa’s Electric Vehicle Industry Association (EVIA) is a national platform made up of government departments and agencies, electricity infrastructure and suppliers, electric vehicle supply equipment suppliers and smart grid service providers. One important EVIA activity is chairing a working group on charging infrastructure for EVs. The Working Group supports the development of public, private and commercial charging networks for cars buses and business fleets.  It works to improve the charging networks in South Africa through improvement of specifications and policy support, adoption of best practices, optimisation of installation requirements, influencing decisions of geographical positioning of charging infrastructure and advocating for use of clean electricity.

It’s an ambitious goal to implement the shift to EVs. “The change that we are promoting is not small and will be disruptive. We are asking for the transport sector to switch from fossil fuels to electricity”,  EVIA Chairperson Carel Snyman says.

“Currently the transport sector makes up almost a third of total energy consumption for the country. In order to satisfy this demand, we pay for oil and refined petroleum products, which translates to foreign exchange lost to South Africa,” says Snyman. “Should we use electricity, this demand could fall to a quarter of today’s levels, save foreign exchange payments, clean up city air and mitigate climate change. We do not need additional capacity for this additional demand. In time, this electricity will come from renewable sources and be sustainable.”

These offer clear and present advantages to switching to electric transport although Government buy-in and investment is vital to EV uptake as Snyman says: “It is important to get buy-in for your inspirations. It is even more important to get government’s buy-in for your ideas. The introduction of electric vehicles at national and local government level, which at times involves multifaceted processes, requires strong collaboration on joint initiatives between various groups of people and individuals of which can take time to achieve.”  

Alongside the efforts of national groups like EVIA, Global EVRT encourages new infrastructure as part of our road trips. One of the positive outcomes of the EVRT Africa is implementing  charging stations to be built in areas where they are needed to pave the way to worry-free travel. During the last two EVRT events we have installed 30 charging points in the UAE and Oman.

Events like ours raise the profile of EVs at a local and national level and help provide the necessary stepping stones for the smart transport sector in South Africa to increase their influence over policy, improve infrastructure and secure investment.


 

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