JOHANNESBURG – Soon, South Africans will be able to pop into a shopping centre or a garage and charge their electric vehicles in under 20 minutes.
However, government acknowledges that it will have to introduce tax incentives, industry support and public education in order to get people to purchase electric vehicles.
First there will need to be a demand for vehicle production. At the launch of the Road Map for Electric Vehicles, the Department of Trade and Industry (Dti) listed the incentives it has put in place to stimulate demand.
Dti Minister Rob Davies said that by providing investment support through the Automotive Investment Scheme (AIS) and the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP), the Dti will offer a 35% investment incentive. Also, the Dti will reduce the qualifying investment incentive of 50 000 units produced annually to 5 000 units for electric vehicles.
According to the Dti, South Africa is the 13th largest CO2 emitter in the world and the largest on the continent. With the increased demand for transport, Davies emphasised that it would important for South Africa to invest in developing the infrastructure for electric vehicles. However the price tag for going green will not be cheap.
Gert Roussouw, the department of Environmental Affairs’ travel services deputy director, said that a Nissan Leaf, though not currently available in South Africa, could go for approximately R400 000.
Once charged the vehicle has a range of up to 150km. Roussouw emphasised that it would not be ideal for long distance travelling, but perfect for urban, compact cities. Users also do not need to worry about load shedding as the charging stations are to be solar powered.
Charging an electric vehicle at home should take eight hours, but the higher voltage charging stations to be set up across Gauteng will only take 20 minutes, said Roussouw. There are already three charging stations in Gauteng and another 50 will be added over the next two years.
It is not yet clear how much it will cost consumers to pay for charging their cars as the Dti explained that it was still in the early process of carrying out the plan. However, by encouraging research and development initiates the department hopes that production and maintenance costs will come down.