EV survey shows demand for Electric Vehicles

The percentage of consumers who are likely or very likely to consider purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) in the future has increased to 70% from 68% last year, according to the 2021 South African EV Buyers Survey by AutoTrader in partnership with Smarter Mobility Africa.

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However, the percentage of respondents to the survey who stated that they would purchase an EV within the next five years declined to 72% from 74% in 2020.

AutoTrader South Africa CEO, George Mienie, attributed this decline to supply issues and the fact that there are only five EVs available for sale in South Africa – the Porsche Taycan, Jaguar I-PACE, BMW i3, Mini SE and Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge.

However, uYilo electric mobility programme executive and thought leader, Hiten Parmar, told the Smarter Mobility Africa conference that three major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have announced that they have up to six models in production and each is looking at about eight new battery EVs to be produced in the first two quarters of 2022.

“That will start to change the landscape in South Africa and is starting to shake up the industry,” he says.

Mienie says that one of the best ways to increase EV adoption in South Africa is to have drivers experience them first-hand, but that is not happening.

Parmar says EV adoption in South Africa has been very slow, adding that by June 2021 about 1 400 plug-in EVs had been sold in the country. He says this accounts for 0.014% of South Africa’s total car parc fleet of 10 million vehicles, which is nothing to be proud about.

Mienie says there has even been a slight increase in people who have not driven an EV in South Africa to 88% of respondents in 2021 from 87% in 2020.

The automotive industry needs to do a lot more to educate consumers when it comes to EV driving and ownership, which is a big opportunity for the industry, he says.

The survey says EVs in South Africa are still out of reach from a price perspective for two-thirds of consumers, with 72% of respondents stating that they were willing to spend up to R500 000 on an electric vehicle compared to 74% in 2020.

However, it also revealed that the number of people who are willing to pay more for an EV – given that running costs are lower than a petrol/diesel vehicle – has increased from 67.3% in 2020 to 68.2% in 2021.

Mienie says South African consumers are actively looking for opportunities to purchase EVs despite the relatively high purchase price being a major challenge.

He says search behaviour for EVs is far higher than before, and AutoTrader has seen a 210% growth in searches for EVs in South Africa while EV consumer advert views are up 234% year-on-year.

Mienie says 92 EVs were sold in South Africa in 2020, and he anticipates that this number will grow in 2022.

The survey results revealed the perceptions of respondents about the advantages and disadvantages of EVs.

Advantages cited by respondents were:

  • 78% of respondents in 2021 says reduced carbon emissions were the biggest advantage of an electric car compared to 80% in 2020.
  • Air pollution was once again the second biggest advantage mentioned by respondents at 61% compared to 64% in 2020.
  • 55.1% of respondents says running costs were the third biggest advantage of an EV compared to 54.69% in 2020.

Other advantages cited by respondents were less noise pollution (43.5%); lower maintenance costs 23.9%; better performance 21.5%; easier to drive 6.2%; positive image 5.7%; and styling 4.6%.

The major disadvantages of EVs cited by respondents were:

  • EV was again charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at 59% compared to 61% in 2020.
  • 58% of respondents believe charging time is the second major disadvantage of an EV compared to 60% in 2020.
  • 54.8% believed the initial cost of purchase was a major disadvantage of EVs compared to 55.3% in 2020.

Other disadvantages were the impact of load shedding 37.9%; inconvenient charging options 34.0%; range anxiety 25.7%; battery deterioration 21.3%; and roadside assistance 10%.

However, Mienie told the conference that there were 300 charging stations in South Africa, which means there is one charging station for every four vehicles in the country versus international statistics that show there is one charging station for every 20 vehicles.

Mienie says consumers want an EV under R500 000, and the EV debate should be centred on education and price and looking at things like incentives and government taxes.

Read more: EVs can make sense for dealer, motorist.

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