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Nissan, BMW in talks to pull SA into electric car era

Eskom still poses a problem though.

Nissan Motor, BMW and Volkswagen are among carmakers in talks to bring the electric-car revolution to South Africa, as the nation’s auto-factory floors risk being left behind in the global switch to greener vehicles.

Read: More EVs for SA roads

The industry is preparing a unified stance on electrification to present to the government by the end of the year, Mike Mabasa, chief executive officer of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, or Naamsa, said in an interview.

Among the goals is persuading lawmakers to reduce or drop a 23% import tariff on electric vehicles to help ramp up nascent domestic sales, he said. Another is to roll out a charging infrastructure in a country where the state-owned power monopoly is in deep financial crisis.

Taking steps to boost the popularity of electric vehicles in South Africa is just one part of the equation. The auto-manufacturing industry makes up about 7% of the country’s economy, according to Naamsa. The sector is one of the more positive aspects of an economy expected to grow at less than 1% for a second consecutive year.

Read: BMW takes on VW and Tesla with $36 400 electric Mini Cooper

“The country needs to move forward and bring new technologies,” said Mike Whitfield, Nissan’s chairman for the southern Africa region. “The rest of the world will move very fast and if we don’t get going we will be left behind.”

South Africa has long been a hub for global automaking, attracting plants operated by seven carmakers from Toyota Motor to Isuzu Motors. Last year, the manufacturers exported almost 210 000 cars to Europe, where Volkswagen is already retooling factories to only make electric cars. That’s just under a third of all local production and makes up 60% of exports.

To date, there are no firm plans for electric-car or hybrid production in South Africa, but the government and industry agreed in 2018 to extend a manufacturing incentive program, creating jobs and enabling models like the BMW X3 sport utility vehicle and Nissan’s Novara pickup to be produced locally.

“The electric-vehicle play in South Africa will not be determined by the South African consumer, but by the requirements of export markets,” Martyn Davies, an auto-industry specialist at Deloitte, said by phone from Johannesburg, adding that the weaker rand is also making exports more attractive.

The quality of the local plants of BMW, Ford Motor and Mercedes-Benz are good enough to make retooling quite straightforward, he said, adding that the next product made in South Africa by those automakers could feasibly be electric.

Under the terms of the new manufacturing plan, the automakers will have to more than double annual production to as many as 1.4 million vehicles by 2035, and that won’t happen without making electric cars as well as gas or diesel, according to Naamsa’s Mabasa.

BMW’s i3 and i8 are two of only three models currently available in the birth country of electric car pioneer Elon Musk, and only 620 units have been sold. Jaguar Land Rover introduced the I-Pace earlier this year, while Nissan is holding off on the launch of the latest Leaf until after an agreement is reached on import tariffs.

Elsewhere on the African continent, a plan by Volkswagen to introduce an electric-vehicle in Rwanda stands in contrast to a lack of other developments.

Another barrier to an accelerated electric-car boom in South Africa is Eskom, the power provider that last week reported an annual loss of almost $1.5 billion and requires an $8.8 billion government bailout over the next three years.

The utility has been forced to implement intermittent rolling blackouts and is reliant on coal, which is out of step with the environmentally friendly advantages of producing electric cars, Mabasa said. Therefore, the industry paper is likely to lay out a mixture of power sources between Eskom and privately owned renewable energy projects, he said.

But the need to turn around Eskom’s financial situation is likely to be of more pressing concern to the government than using it to enable the electric-car industry, Nissan’s Whitfield said.

“There is excess capacity, but quite frankly Eskom’s issues have to be addressed or we will have much bigger problems,” Whitfield said.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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In before the geniuses who point out that in SA, most electricity comes from coal. Like no one knows that. It is like they think they are the only ones to have been paying attention in grade 2.

The real science illiteracy occurs when they assume that because electricity comes from coal, this makes coal-sourced electrically driven cars as efficient as IC engines.

“bu but but you have to mine for battery minerals! Petrol comes from the petrol station!”.

Yes please, more EVs – we’ll set up solar superchargers, no problems there.
Man, it would be great to get rid of that rush-hour stink of cars while you’re walking around town !

E-cars to be welcomed.

Eskom a problem? No, this would be Eskom’s life-jacket. Eskom desperately needs funding, and how better way to increase demand. Supply more product = increased revenue (sounds like tried and tested business model to me?)

After reading an article on 31 July, where ex-acting CEO Koko stated: “I stopped load-shedding in SA, and can do so in Zim”. So, load-shedding seems to be decided at Boardroom level, while most of us incl. myself thought it had to do with demand vs supply technicalities. Load-shedding also happens during NERSA negotiations.

Hence, BMW & Nissan merely need to make agreements with Eskom’s Board to avoid load-shedding for their Leaf’s & i3’s.

And if Eskom does not do it’s part?
Quote: “The best way to protect the exterior paint of an e-car from the damaging rays of the sun, is to park it in the shade of a PV-solar roofed carport” 🙂

I can’t wait to buy my first EV, the freedom of knowing I can make my own fuel is going to be so freeing.

…yes, and no engine maintenance to do, and no gearbox that potentially can give trouble. Only running gear like suspension parts, tyres, etc.

Plus you can have fun with an EV as well….you can visit a tyre/exhaust workshop, and ask the technician to inspect the exhaust for any leaks *lol* and time him to see how long it takes to “find” it 😉

The single largest cost item will be the eventual EV battery replacement. Let’s hope the cost comes down due to economies of scale, or new tech.

Costs will come down as well as increased range:

“A new breakthrough in electric car battery development has enabled 1,000-miles of range on a single charge. Innolith AG, which develops rechargeable Inorganic Battery Technology, has announced the world’s first 1000 Wh/kg rechargeable battery.”

Hopefully soon electric cars will beat ICE cars in range too.

I think by the time most of us will do our first replacement packs the cost per kWh would also have come down dramatically, and if you look on the flip side, remember LFP batteries are generally considered EOL once they hit 80% of initial capacity, the battery isn’t dead, it just means it has 80% of its initial capacity remaining.

So if after 7 years your 60kWh car needs a battery replacement, well congratulations your house potentially just got a 48kWh battery bank!

Used EV batteries make perfect home storage batteries, especially since LFP degrades linearly and not exponentially.

EVs do have gearboxes. Sorry.

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