South Africa needs cheaper electric cars ASAP!

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

The report also states that there has been a 27% year-on-year increase in car buyers using a fuel filter. In the past, fuel type was a secondary search filter used mostly by car buyers looking to buy pickup trucks. This increase can be attributed to the sharp rise in petrol and diesel prices. In the first half of 2022, hybrid and electric fuel searches increased by 129% and 100% respectively, indicating strong growth in interest in electric cars in South Africa. Demands for diesel and gasoline fuel grew by a more modest 24% and 26% respectively. The reports said that it is very important to note that this sharp increase in the demands of electric vehicles is from a much smaller base compared to traditional fuel types like petrol and diesel. The most sought-after electric car in South Africa was the Audi RS e-tron GT, followed by the BMW i3, Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron GT.

A survey included in last year’s report showed that more than 70 percent of South Africans would be interested in going electric if they had the opportunity to buy an electric vehicle that cost less than R500,000 ($30,000). But as we can see from the prices of the top 10 most wanted 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 sought-after electric vehicle is the BMW i3, at R667 000. The majority of electric cars on the South African market are from premium brands with models starting at the equivalent of over US$100 000. These vehicles will still be quite expensive when they eventually land on the used vehicle market. There is an $86,000 difference in average price 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 last 6 years. South Africa desperately needs more affordable vehicles to get more people going electric.

Source: naamsa/Lightstone Auto

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

Charts from Autotrader South Africa Automotive Industry Report, Interim Report January 2022 – June 2022


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