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SA could become dumping ground for ‘dirty engine’ vehicles

Investing in smart mobility one way to fight back against ‘polluting internal combustion engines’.
Time for integration. Image: Shutterstock

South Africa risks becoming the dumping ground for COpolluting internal combustion engine vehicles if it does not keep up with global trends by transforming to smart mobility.

Siemens Mobility South Africa CEO Kevin Pillay said on Wednesday that from 2025 a lot of cities will start doing away with combustion engine vehicles, with big markets like the UK and France stopping the use of combustion engine vehicles by about 2040.

Pillay said South Africa definitely stands the risk of becoming a dumping ground for these vehicles if it is not progressing like the world and investing in smart mobility and intelligent infrastructure.

“To avoid that, we have to forecast what is going to happen, put out a plan, do the transformational changes that we need … to get on par [with the developed world] on this so we can do it in a nice staged approach.

“If it doesn’t happen, think logically what will happen. You will have markets like the first world markets … [that] will sell at better prices to other markets who need to purchase it.

“They are not going to just kill it and have a massive loss from it,” he said during a webinar discussion about smart mobility hosted by CNBC Africa and the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA).

Pillay added that combustion engine vehicles accounted for about 98% of the vehicle market in 2015 but this will decline to about only 45% by about 2037 or 2040.

The best advice he can give from a technology investment perspective is to invest in what is valuable in the future, which is in the smart mobility concept and all the smart technologies, he said.

A good example

Pillay added that the Gautrain is probably South Africa’s best example of smart mobility.

The government is assessing the planned multi-billion rand expansion of the Gautrain rapid rail project in terms of its new infrastructure development methodology and is in the process of engaging with stakeholders about the project.

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille confirmed in August that the government is assessing the planned multi-billion rand expansion of the Gautrain rapid rail project in terms of its new infrastructure development methodology and is in the process of engaging with stakeholders about the project.

GMA chief operating officer Tshepo Kgobe said on Wednesday the GMA has defined smart mobility as an effective and efficient mobility system using appropriate technology.

However, Kgobe said he saw the fact that South Africa is lagging the world in the adoption of smart mobility solutions as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

Chance to leapfrog other countries

Kgobe referred to a study done by the International Association of Public Transport in about 2015 which showed that the countries that are lagging behind have the opportunity to “right the wrongs” of what has happened in other countries where smart mobility has been implemented wrongly.

“I’m not saying we are on the right track but there is a window of opportunity to leapfrog the rest of the countries that are sort of in the middle and join the big league with Hong Kong and everybody else who is doing very well,” he said.

Kgobe said countries in Africa should not play the wrong role in the fourth industrial revolution by creating jobs in other countries rather than in their own countries, importing skills rather than developing skills in their own countries and failing to have a long term legacy in implementing their smart mobility strategy.

He said the biggest challenge with the government currently is not that it does not have a plan to do this but the need to have senior leaders in this space to start guiding programmes in the right direction.

“The more we can get momentum in building senior leadership in developing our technology, we are going to find that we have the ability to leapfrog,” he said.

Cities that ‘free the potential of everyone’

Mathetha Mokonyama, impact area manager: transport systems and operations at the CSIR, said a smart city is a city that frees the potential of everyone and the transport system is there to unlock that potential.

Mokonyama said engineers and technologists tend to be supply-driven but there is a need for a social compact and agreement on “what success looks like in the built environment”.

He said plans must not be forced because you want them to defend the plans, adding that communities will never go against plans once they see the potential of them because everybody wants to live in a prosperous society.

However, Mokonyama said the pace at which South Africa is moving is far slower than the rate of change that is happening globally and in the opposite direction of policy.

Pillay added that from a socio-economic perspective, South Africa has little choice but to invest in smart mobility.

He referred to a report published by the GMA in 2019, which forecast that the population in Gauteng will grow to about 18.7 million in 2037.

“That is probably an increase of four to five million people, which means the number of cars on the road will double,” he said.

Too many private vehicles

“We cannot build infrastructure efficiently and fast enough to support it. There is no other option. Smart mobility has to happen and it has to happen with speed now.”

Thembani Moyo from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Johannesburg, said the problem is that there are too many private vehicles on the road currently and initially there is a need to try and ensure that existing public transportation is attractive enough for the general public to use.

Moyo said this did not necessarily mean doing away with taxis because with their spatial network, if anyone wants to travel anywhere in the City of Johannesburg, they know that if they get into a taxi they will be able to get to their destination.

“Minibus taxis should be integrated into the future developments. They could act as the feeder system into this larger network that exist, like the Gautrain,” he said.

Kgobe said the GMA has taken a key decision that none of its new services to provide “last mile services” will be done by bus.

“We will all do it through minibuses and contract the taxi associations into the work that we do,” he said.

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All good stuff, but the number of oil burning, smoking clunkers the traffic authorities “pass” as roadworthy go first!

Very funny. The overcrowded Gautrain needs billions in taxpayer subsidy, at the expense of proper transport for the poor. It is a white elephant, and will never make money on its own. Now it’s being hailed as some kind of positive example? Pull the other one!

With smart/new tech mobility comes bigger bills.

Look how much more a Tesla electric vehicle costs?

If our economy is third world and our Rand keeps dropping then we must adjust and live poorer like the third world countries do.

SA hoarding vehicle engines with low-level Emission standards in future? (…it ties in with dirty coal-fired plants).

But SA and other 3rd would countries will have little choice, as the rest of developed world will convert to EV’s, African countries with (sporadic) electricity supply, will try to cling to older combustion engines (at a time when global R&D spending will be on EVs/battery tech)….it thus makes sense to start hoarding mountains of engines….as we’ll need them in our cannibalization process.

As STD Bank used to stay, our vehicles need to “keep Moving Forward”

We could get three times as much public transport for same money if we design for 80km/h instead of this madness of very high speed trains that travel very short distances between stops.

Coffee is probably prohibited on Gautrain because it would all spill out with the continuous accelerate, decelerate

Electric cars are almost out of reach for the middle class.

Funny one in the days of expensive catalyst converters for petrol engine cars, you drive an expensive car and try to reduce CO2 emissions, then comes along a very old taxi with no tail lights and buring oil ….

Gautrain runs off Coal powered generation

Will Kevin Pillay require Gautrain to move over too?….rubber band momentum

It’s no question South Africa is being left behind when it comes to motoring advances. And its not a question of money. Granted we live in Sandton but every third or fourth car we see on the road costs well in excess of R500,000. So saying EVs are ‘too expensive’ is just an excuse. And the lack of charging infrastructure can very quickly be rectified if the demand is there.

The truth is the manufacturers aren’t willing to go to the trouble and expense of educating SA motorists on the benefits of driving an EV. Largely, I suspect, because there is very little demand from motorists for the new technology. Also, EVs don’t require nearly the same amount of maintenance as ICEs, and dealers stand to lose a lot of income from their servicing and parts divisions once EVs become the norm.

I am certain that most manufacturers will continue to neglect the African market and for the very reason outlined in this article — we are a convenient dumping ground for their old tech ICE vehicles. S. Africans need to wake up and smell the exhaust fumes. We deserve to get the best these companies have to offer but it won’t happen unless we demand it.

There are 3 enormous problems with EVs.

1. Limited range. It’s getting better, but you still can’t drive most of them from Johannesburg to Durban.

2. Slow charging. Once your batteries run out, prepare to spend hours upon hours enjoying the sights of Harrismith. If there is an open charging station.

3. Resale value. After a few years, the batteries die, and replacing a battery pack is hundreds of thousands. So an EV depreciates far quicker and far more than a petrol vehicle.

I think these problems are rapidly being addressed with latest-gen EVs. Range is a matter of infrastructure. If you want to drive across country, you’ll have to stop and refuel or recharge, either way.

Time to recharge has improved a lot but its not as quick as refuelling. It depends whether you want to do a 3/4 or full recharge. The latter takes a lot longer.

Battery life is estimated at 8 years but it doesn’t go from 100% to zero. The downgrade is more gradual than that. That said, most people will trade up before the 8 years are up, especially given the rapid improvements in EV technology. That is, IF we had the choice of several EVs right now, but we don’t.

I would say within 5 years the picture will look very different.

There is also the hybrid option, which many feel is better suited to our country. Lots more hybrids due for release soon.

If you want to keep up with what’s happening in the world of EVs (there’s a LOT), I highly recommend the YouTube channel, Fully Charged.

Here they are testing the forthcoming ID3 from VW which is their built-from the-ground-up EV offering.

Electric cars are only good for the environment if the electricity used to charge/re-charge the batteries is generated from renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydro-electric power.

I don’t see the point of having an electric car if the electricity used to charge the battery comes from fossil fuels.

Hydrogen powered motor vehicles would probably be an better leapfrog alternative.

This is a valid point but we have to start somewhere. In cities like JHB and Cape Town we have tremendous congestion on the roads which leads to very high pollution levels. Just try opening your window next time you’re stuck in a traffic jam and sniff the air.

EVs don’t produce ANY exhaust fumes, so if you have a majority of EVs on the road, the air is immediately cleaner. Big win for our lungs. Yes, ideally, you should also have your electricity being produced by renewable sources, and there ARE plans afoot to get this process moving.

The whole world is moving in this direction because slowly but surely, governments are facing up to the reality that burning fossil fuels is self-destructive. Other means to generate electricity now exist and in most cases they are now CHEAPER than fossil fuel-burning plants.

The problem is South Africa moves incredibly slowly thanks to our next-to-useless government, who can do nothing with urgency. But global warming is accelerating fast, so this situation is now very urgent indeed and we need to push for change.

Don’t be ridiculous. All together now: “CO2 is not a pollutant”. Without CO2 the earth would be snowball, no plants would grow and we’d all die. By removing petrol cars from South Africa we could probably change the average global temperature by 0.0001°C by 2100. Assuming of course, the IPCC models are correct.

Where did I say CO2? Petrol-burning cars produce carbon monoxide which is a poison and contains other pollutants, especially if its a diesel engine. Try idling your car in a closed garage and rolling the windows down. See how long you last.

That said, carbon dioxide (CO2) is also very damaging when there’s TOO MUCH of it in the atmosphere, creating the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ and warming the planet. That is the situation today.

Don’t be ridiculous. If I was replying to any comment you made, I would have placed my reply below your comment, as one does. My reference was to the first paragraph in the article which uses the term “CO2 polluting”.

The purpose of of catalytic converter in an ICE is to remove toxic products (CO, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides) from the exhaust via a number of REDOX reactions.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t reply to any comment you made as this would simply be challenging your [unscientific] beliefs. Indeed, you are most welcome to your beliefs. As they are beliefs, they are not falsifiable by the scientific method and thus always correct. Judging by your comments you would be wholly unable to mount any kind of rational cogent scientific argument preferring instead to post links.

Fossil Fuels and engines powered by it is not going anywhere anytime soon. The contributors don’t know or choose to ignore the refinement, technology and efficiency of today’s modern engines. Electric power will not (at least not in my lifetime) replace the combustion jet engines that power Jet, Propeller driven aircraft.
There is no electric equivalent for Jetfuel.
I don’t see an F-22 Fighter trading it’s Jet Engines for an electrically driven turbine anytime soon.
Finally, where exactly does the author and contributors think the electricity to charge these EV’s come from – Fossil Fuel or Nuclear is the answer and no, Renewable s will never provide the quantity of energy required for a 90-100% conversion of fossil fuel engines to electricity. For that you need, you guessed it – Fossil Fuels !

If fossil fuels are such a roaring success why are they still subsidised to the tune of trillions of dollars a year?

F-22 jets are a highly specialised area and their impact on the big picture is negligible. Mass public transport is what we’re talking about and in that regard, the electric vehicle is a considerable step up from the petrol-fuelled one.

Let’s consider the advantages: You can charge up at home; it costs considerably less to get a full charge than a full tank; you have instant acceleration (0-60 MILES per hour takes 3,6 seconds in the Tesla Model 3); far less maintenance (no exhaust, gearbox, oil or air filters), no noise and ZERO exhaust emissions, ie, no stink and no pollutants (catalytic converters reduce pollutants, they don’t eliminate them).

This technology can now be scaled up or down to work with utility vehicles, 18-wheelers and buses, which are a significant source of pollution on the roads, as many still run on old diesel engines.

The point is the technology exists and it is getting better every day, but it can always use a little boost to get it entrenched. Right now, EVs are taxed at a HIGHER import duty rate than regular vehicles. Does that make any sense at all? No, it doesn’t.

“Could be become the dumping ground”
should be
“We have been the dumping for decades”.

You can buy very good used engines from Japan which has very high standards of testing for CO2 emissions.

The motor vehicles in Japan spend fewer years on the road.

End of comments.





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