South Africa has been slow to transition to electric cars, but the country is certainly warming to hybrids.
CATASTROPHIC power grid woes aside, South Africa has been decidedly slow to transition to electric cars, which remain prohibitively expensive, but the country is certainly warming to hybrids.
South Africa’s Automotive Business Council, Naamsa, has released comparative sales data for hybrid and electric vehicles and it shows steady growth on all fronts.
A total of 502 fully electric vehicles were sold in South Africa in 2022, which is a 134% increase over the 218 units sold in 2021 and a 782% increase over the 58 cars that found homes five years earlier in 2018.
It seems even fewer South Africans are warming to plug-in hybrids (PHEV), which are often seen as the ideal bridge between ICE and EV for markets such as ours. Just 122 South Africans bought a PHEV last year, and this is an increase of just 37% over 2018.
But traditional self-charging hybrids are exploding in popularity, with 4 050 finding homes last year, representing a year-on-year gain of 546% and a 7,200% increase over 2018.
Sales figures for the individual hybrid models have not been released, but there’s no doubt that the Toyota Corolla Cross HEV accounts for the vast majority of hybrid sales in South Africa.
The Corolla is the country’s most affordable hybrid model, starting at R442,800, followed by its Corolla hatch sibling at R500,700, the Honda Fit Hybrid (R509,600) and the Haval Jolion HEV (R549,950).
While Mzansi is warming to hybrids, sales of fully electric car sales are still a drop in the ocean, last year representing just 0.1% of the year’s total sales tally of 528 963 vehicles. It’s not known which are the country’s best-selling EVs as individual sales data for most models has not been reported. Suffice to say that there are no volume models and electric cars remain prohibitively expensive in South Africa, with the limited-range Mini Cooper SE kicking things off at R742,102. If you want a family-sized EV you’ll have to stretch to R1,075,000 for Volvo’s XC40 P6 Recharge.
Also starting in the early millions are the Mercedes EQA (from R1,174,000), Volvo C40 P8 (R1,295,000), BMW iX3 (R1,306,400) and Mercedes EQB (R1,432,000).
Prohibitive pricing remains the biggest obstacle to the adoption of New Energy Vehicles (NEV) in South Africa, according to a thought leadership discussion document, “South Africa’s New Energy Vehicle Roadmap”, released by Naamsa this week.
According to the industry body, fully-electric vehicles are on average 52% more expensive than their equivalent internal combustion (ICE) models. This gap is reduced to 43% for PHEVs and just 12% for traditional hybrid models.
Prohibitively high ad valorem excise duty, based on a sliding scale up to 30%, remains a huge obstacle for electric vehicle adoption, and Naamsa is calling for a purchase subsidy that would optimise support for entry-level NEVs, with less benefit for more expensive models.
“If the South African market were forced to transition to NEV consumption without any form of incentivisation and these price differentials were forced to be borne by the consumer, the domestic vehicle market would contract substantially, massively damaging the South African automotive industry,” Naamsa said.