Written by: Theresa Smith
The next evrt Africa road trip will take place from 15 to 24 February 2024, according to Smarter Mobility Africa (SMA) founder, Ben Pullen.
Making the announcement a day before the Formula E race in Cape Town, Pullen pointed out that the evrt Africa road trip also showcases electric vehicle products and technologies and amplifies the message of the benefits of going electric.
“The event plays a role in educating and awareness around clean energy and vehicles. It’s a real educator, very visual,” said Pullen.
evrt Africa first launched on this continent in 2019 with a 9-day road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town. One of the first partners to sign up for the 2024 road trip, the Eastern Cape-based Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), hinted they would like the EV road trip to spend more time in their region in 2024.
Thabo Shenxane, AIDC CEO, said the choice to get involved with evrt Africa was a no-brainer as the Eastern Cape knows it has to work with the other provinces to save the country’s automotive industry, which is based around Gqeberha. “If we can’t work together, the industry will collapse.
“We could use these types of events to extend our services. It is possible that by 2025 we could do a road trip linked to a tourism product with EVs. It’s possible.
“The commitment is for us to ensure that our province integrates with the rest of the country and the transition to EV. We’re mandated to do that as the AIDC,” said Shenxane.
evrt Africa to play role in clean energy education
Ricardo McKenzie, the new MEC for mobility in the Western Cape, said it is an exciting time to work in the mobility space.
He drew everyone’s attention to the fact that two EVs outside the launch venue were branded with Western Cape logos because they belonged to the province fleet.
“We are the first province to launch an EV strategy. We take this very seriously. Our depot in Maitland already has chargers. And on 1 April, we will launch more charging stations in the province,” said McKenzie.
He added: “We will work to drive e-mobility and the green economy because that is where the jobs are. We will work with our partners in the city on how we can continue to drive this.”
Iain Banner, Formula E Cape Town promoter and founder of Go Green Africa, emphasised that EVs and clean technology are good for business.
“You’re helping other people at the same time as you’re helping yourself. We want Formula E to be an annual celebration of sustainability. It’s the only sport in the world that is net zero. It shows you can perform at the highest level while bringing in the whole new world of clean energy,” said Banner.
Educating South Africa on clean energy and EV tech
Banner’s goal is to create a movement towards clean energy, “so we started with the E-Fest, which incorporates Africa’s Green Economic Summit. Then, there’s also Go Green Africa which will be the workshop. evrt Africa is the celebration of what you can do with EVs.
“Range anxiety is still a big issue. We have to sort out legislation so that we can import EVs at a better deal than internal combustion vehicles,” said Banner.
He explained that the torch travelling with the EVs at evrt Africa 2024 would represent green energy. “It is going to travel with the vehicles, and we’ll be stopping at Megawatt Park. We want Eskom to sign a declaration [as a Go Green Africa partner].”
“We will celebrate Go Green Africa at different points,” he explained.
Place for hybrid EVs in South Africa
Autotrader CEO George Mienie said they have been working with the SMA founder for the past four years, providing research on vehicle demand and supply to understand trends in consumer behaviour around EVs.
They recently published the Hybrid Car Buyers Survey 2022, which shows “a humongous increase in consumer demand for hybrid vehicles.”
The survey identifies that the consumer appetite for hybrids in South Africa is increasing. The use of hybrid as a search filter increased by 47% in 2022, compared to 2021. Hybrid consumer advert views were also up 44% year-on-year, while hybrid enquiries rose by 64%. New vehicle sales are also positive – hybrid vehicle sales in SA were up by 1,885% compared to the first eight months of 2021.
Still, there is a big need for education and awareness – the survey also showed that most South Africans are unaware of the various hybrid cars available. There is also a lack of understanding of the various hybrid car drive train configurations that exist.
“The key fundamental, what we are doing today, is education. Even with a hybrid, 81% of consumers got the range wrong. They believe the range of hybrids is lower than what it actually is. The best way is to get bums on seats,” said Mienie.
Importance of the grid
Monde Bala, Eskom Distribution Group Executive, said the utility started its e-mobility journey many years ago when they collaborated on pilot project research around the Nissan Leaf.
In the future, the distribution side of Eskom will be leaving the power stations to the generation department. “Our focus is to embrace the future, which is green. We do have an aspiration of being net-zero by 2050,” said Bala.
Part of that net-zero goal is to get involved in the e-mobility space by getting into EV charging grid infrastructure through the utility’s vast infrastructure framework already in place.
Eskom also has a large automobile fleet of around 10,000 vehicles which it wants to electrify. “We’ve started the process; we are running a pilot to go green with EVs,” said Bala.