Electric vehicles are finally emerging from the shadows
Thinking that electric vehicles (EVs) are a new type of technology? It turns out EVs have been around since 1828, while the first petrol vehicle was only built in 1886 by Mr. Daimler.
This technology has since been part of various industries and applications such as automobiles, trucks, forklifts, milk carts, agriculture tractors, trains, planes, helicopters, drones, ships, submarines, and space vehicles.
There are four main technical classifications used for modern electric vehicles:
- HEV – Hybrid EV, internal combustion engine with an electric motor and battery
- PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid EV, internal combustion engine with an electric motor and battery with charge capability
- Hydrogen EV – Electrochemical process (using a fuel cell), hydrogen and oxygen used to generate electricity to drive electric motor
- BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle, pure battery — only vehicle with charging capability
The truth is, EVs are the most efficient way to provide propulsion on land and water with added advantages such as lower maintenance requirements which enables a 30% reduction in the total cost of ownership when compared to internal combustion engine (ICE).
Potential benefits derived from EVs
- Environmental – zero exhaust pollutants, can use renewable electricity, recycling of batteries is possible and less impact on resources.
- Autonomy – self-driving technology has potential safety and financial benefits.
- Enhanced Safety – EVs are generally showing better crash protection due to the absence of the engine normally located in the front of a vehicle.
- Lower Cost of Ownership – fewer maintenance costs, less road tax and various incentives available worldwide.
Are countries like South Africa ready for such an electrified future?
- There are no exhaust emissions tests required, so older more polluting vehicles are allowed on roads while paying the same road tax rate as vehicles that conform.
- The consumers have no power over the cost of fuel and face exchange rate risks every day.
- VW who manufacturers vehicles in South Africa, recently reported that they will stop to produce ICE vehicle in 2026, except for African markets. This development is a result of many non-African countries and cities which have started the process to ban sales of polluting transport solutions. Incidentally Mercedes-Benz, also a South African manufacturer, announced earlier in 2019 that the current ICE developed will be the last.
- From around 2030, Africa will become a dumping ground for the world’s ICE stock, both new and used. Add to this scenario the diminishing export potential of locally-built ICE vehicles and you potentially have to rethink the entire automobile manufacturing sector in South Africa.
- The price of oil is expected to be in the range of approximately $40 per barrel from 2030, however, indications are that it will probably come earlier as electric automobile uptake is accelerating and especially since electric buses are becoming a thing. This will lead to short-term lower fuel costs, however, it will be unsustainable and only delay the inevitable.
How South Africa needs to facilitate the changeover
South Africa needs to facilitate the changeover to electric transport solutions and manage the dumping abuse model by:
- Ensuring Renewable electricity supply; ultimately CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations will be taxed heavily, making this type of energy no longer feasible.
- Incentivising consumers with tax credits or grants and focusing on smart charge networks to get things going.
- Implementing policies to protect the environment and its economy by setting a date for the total ban of new sales of the internal combustion engine between 2025-2035.
Electric vehicles are no longer vehicles of the future. This is now a current technology that will disrupt every government, business, and individual that is not prepared. One thing that is clear is that EVs bring many more new opportunities for our local economies than the traditional ICE market.
Get ready, the automotive market as you know it will never be the same.
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