EVs – embrace the future says DP

The future is most definitely electric and swopping the internal combustion engine (ICE) for an electric powertrain is the biggest transition for the auto industry ever.

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Ryan Chapman, the Dealer Principal at Rola Volvo in Somerset West and Volvo Dealer of the Year, weighed in on the topic and chatted to Dealerfloor about preparedness at dealership level for the slow but sure arrival of a new dawn for the industry.

“It might not seem like that for many people at this stage owing to the limited number of battery electric vehicles (BEV) available and the relatively high sticker prices of these kinds of cars. It is coming and will eventually start to surpass the ICE as demand grows and manufacturers’ portfolios increase.

“In the next two to three years we will see an exponential increase in the number of manufacturers adding EVs to their portfolios across the board. At Volvo, we already have a full BEV in the guise of the XC40 P6 and P8 Recharge, with the latter already available locally since early 2022.

Ryan Chapman, Dealer Principal at Rola Volvo Somerset West with a Volvo P8 Recharge, one of Volvo’s full electric vehicles available in South Africa.

The complete Volvo range currently has some sort of renewability in its power trains, be it fully BEVs, mild hybrids or plug-in hybrids.

“The uptake on the XC40 P8 Recharge is great and what we can lay our hands on, we sell. The newly added P6 is more competitively priced as it is only front-wheel drive, while the P8 is an all-wheel drive vehicle.

Ryan says the sums have been done. Although the sticker price, for example of the P8 Recharge, is higher than the equivalent ICE-hybrid version, taking the running costs into account, the BEV version will in the longer run be more cost effective. The running cost per kilometre is approximately 50 cents for the BEV (home charging) and about R2.50/R3.00 for a comparative ICE model.

“Also take into consideration the battery in the P8 Recharge has an 8-year or 160 000 warranty and all Volvos are sold will full 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plans. When servicing an electric vehicle, the service intervals are now 30 000 km or every two years in comparison with the ICE vehicle’s 20 000 kilometres or once a year.

“In the second instance, the service is free of charge (except for tyres) because it is a full maintenance plan. But let us look at the cost of services. ICE costs could be higher as a result of more components being serviced, belts, oil, filters and spark plugs.

“On an EV it is basically just filters and windscreen wipers that need to be changed. Even brakes will last longer on an EV as engine power is used as a main braking system.

“I foresee our technicians will become even more IT focused as diagnostics checks and updating of software will take priority at a BEV service. Minor repairs and vehicle reconditioning will probably be part of a service, making your BEV as good as new after a service,” says Ryan.

“People are sometimes worried about the disposal of the batteries, but we dispose of normal car batteries anyway, not to mention the used oil in an environmentally friendly fashion. A whole industry developed around the disposal of oil, and I am sure when the time comes, we will have a similar situation with BEV batteries,” he says.

“Another aspect is once a battery no longer charges to its full capacity, it does not mean it cannot be used. Batteries used in BEVs can be reconditioned and installed in your house to function in an inverter-storage set-up. The strength of BEV batteries will be more than sufficient to power a household for a certain time.”

Ryan says tests are being done on batteries with an average range up to 1 000 km that will take only 10 minutes to charge. “The progress on battery development for BEVs is happening at a phenomenal pace and you just have to look at where we were a couple of years ago and where we are heading at this stage.

“The way this is all going to play out with the constant development of the technology around BEVs from the manufacturer to the dealer floor is yet to be seen, but it will be exciting to say the least,” Ryan concludes.

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