Electric cars are the future – with global regulations and stifling pollution in many international cities two of the driving forces behind them.
Apart from zero local emissions, reduced wear and tear on items like brake pads and fewer moving parts mean electric cars are notably cheaper to maintain long-term – up to seven-times according to reports.
There is still concern in South Africa around the viability of owning an electric car, however, primarily due to their relatively low range, the charging times, the cost of replacement battery packs, their initial purchase price, and Eskom’s inability to provide a reliable electricity supply.
This is being offset in part by electric vehicle infrastructure becoming more commonplace across the country, with charging points from several providers covering urban environments and strategic points along national routes.
If this is sufficient for you to embrace electric cars as a relatively-early adopter, we have listed what is on offer in South Africa below.
The Mini is currently South Africa’s cheapest electric vehicle at R589,000 – according to it online configurator – shooting 135kW of electric power and 270Nm of torque to the front wheels.
It offers a range of 270kms and will charge from empty to 80% at a fast-charge facility in 35 minutes or 2.5 hours via a normal household socket.
The traditional Mini hatch form factor – rather than the wind-cheating lines of most electric vehicles – means it is slightly less efficient in its energy consumption, but it is probably the right car to set the electric car revolution in motion in South Africa.
It helps that the Mini SE is part of the BMW family and is supported by the company’s extensive infrastructure investment at its dealerships and with charging partners like GridCars.
There’s nothing conventional about the BMW i3 thanks to its quirky doors and Scandinavian-like interior
There are two versions of the i3: a 125kW model or the more powerful 135kW i3s model, providing a claimed range of 300km.
If you suffer from battery-range anxiety, the two models are available with a range extender option (REX) which employs a small petrol engine acting as a generator to provide the battery pack with additional charge.
The i3 starts at R754,000 and goes up to nearly R1,000,000 for a fully-optioned REX version.
What I love about electric cars is how the form-factor breaks the norm. The I-PACE looks like an SUV but is hunkered down low like a car.
It carves a unique silhouette as its 294kW of power shoots it forward via a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup.
The I-PACE benefits from much of the same support infrastructure as the BMW cars through the partnership with GridCars charge stations.
Pricing for the Jaguar I-PACE starts at R1,942,000.
Holding the crown as the most expensive and fastest electric car available in South Africa, the Porsche Taycan starts at R2,500,000.
Even the entry-level Taycan 4S delivers 420kW which can launch this 4-door sports car to 100km/h in 4-seconds.
The Taycan Turbo (500kW) and Taycan Turbo S (560kW) will obliterate many petrol-driven supercars with their powerful motors. They’re able to deliver a range of up to 412 kilometres, depending on the model, options, and environmental conditions.
Being environmentally conscious never looked this good.
One of the first commercially-available electric cars was the Nissan Leaf.
Now celebrating a decade on the roads, it’s proved electric vehicles are a viable option and provided some of the best real-world data into repair and ownership.
Sadly it’s sold in low volumes in South Africa and they rarely come up for sale. The new model introduction has also been delayed due to the global pandemic.
Nissan’s incorporation into the Renault Group means its technology has already trickled into EVs from other brands around the world.
Audi e-tron (Potentially 2021)
Cutting a similar silhouette to the Jaguar I-PACE is the Audi e-tron.
The Audi delivers a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup and up to 300kW of power with a 400km range.
It delivers innovative technologies like the first virtual rear-view mirrors on a series production car, too.
Audi South Africa is looking for customers for the e-tron by allowing them to express their interest on their website, so we can expect its release here in the near future.
No pricing or anticipated launch dates are available yet.
BMW iX (Potentially 2021)
Designed from the ground up as an electric SUV, the iX is the first of what will surely become a full-size electric SUV trend from major manufacturers.
The iX is bold and promises more than 600km of range, 370kW of power, and a 0-100km/h sprint of under 5 seconds.
Charging is going to be equally brisk, with up to 120km of range available in 10 minutes.
With BMW’s move into the electric car market in South Africa, it’s sure to be one of the first mainstream large electric SUVs available locally.
BMW iX3 (Potentially 2021)
Another model anticipated for South Africa in 2021 is the electric version of the BMW X3.
The iX3 promises a range of 460km from its 210kW motor, offering 400Nm of instantly-available torque.
The iX3 is expected to be available in South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2021.