South Africa to discuss EV future

South Africa’s automotive industry is set to meet Trade and Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel, this week to discuss the latest developments in the global automotive industry, including decisions by some vehicle manufacturers to bring forward their electromobility plans.

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Mikel Mabasa, CEO of Naamsa, the automotive council, highlighted the need for global multinational automotive companies to obtain regulatory certainty about South Africa’s position on electric vehicles (EVs) during an Indo Africa Summit panel discussion on electric vehicles this week.

Several European countries have amended the concrete dates they previously set for when a partial or complete ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be introduced.

The UK, for example, initially planned to ban the use of ICE vehicles in 2040 but have brought forward that timeline to 2030. The first country in the European Economic Area appears to be Norway, which has set a ban on ICE vehicles by 2025.

This has resulted in a ripple effect, with many global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) also bringing forward their electromobility plans.

Jaguar Land Rover Africa product and pricing manager for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, Janico Dannhauser, told the Indo Africa Summit that Jaguar Land Rover is committed to an electric future.

Dannhauser said Jaguar will be fully electric by 2025, adding that Land Rover will launch six new pure electric vehicles in the next five years with the ultimate goal of being a net zero carbon business by 2039.

BMW confirmed last week that its Mini brand will be fully electric in the early 2030s and by 2030 at least 50% of its global car sales will be fully electric vehicles. BMW Group brands are BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce.

Volvo Cars also confirmed in March 2021 that it planned to be a fully electric car company by 2030.

Mabasa said these developments will have a huge impact on South Africa because 64% of the vehicles produced in South Africa are for the export market and three out of every four cars that were exported went into European countries.

He said some of the assumptions South Africa’s automotive industry made for the Automotive Masterplan needed to be reviewed because “the world has changed” in the past two months.

Mabasa said the automotive industry would be unable to meet certain targets in the Automotive Masterplan if they were not changed. The implementation of the Automotive Masterplan was delayed from January 1 2021 until July 1 2021 at the automotive industry’s request.

Targets in the plan include doubling annual vehicle production from 600 000 to almost 1.4 million units by 2035 and increasing local content in locally produced vehicles from 39% to 60%.

“There is no way we will be able to reach those levels if we do not quickly create a fertile regulatory environment so that we can make sure that South Africa has the capacity to move with the trends,” Mabasa said.

He said South Africa will unfortunately be forced to conform and needs to work hard to introduce electromobility measures “sooner rather than later”.

Mabasa said India’s automotive electrification policy is to focus on two-wheelers, three-wheelers and public transport, but South Africa’s position is not very clear.

Dannhauser said most of the vehicles sourced for South Africa and the rest of Africa are from markets that were rapidly adopting EVs as mainstream and have announced definite stages of moving from ICE vehicles to plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles.

“It is essential that we follow that global trend because we might be left behind,” he said.

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