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HomeFeaturesBMW i3 vs VW Golf GTI – Cape Town proves electric is better

BMW i3 vs VW Golf GTI – Cape Town proves electric is better

The City of Cape Town (CCT) in partnership with GreenCape recently concluded a three-year case study on electric vehicles (EV), successfully demonstrating a business case for the procurement of battery-powered cars for municipal fleets.

The metro compared the purchase and running costs of a BMWi3 electric hatch with that of a VW Golf 7 GTI over the course of seven years at an average driving distance of 50,000km per year.

The study found that over this timeframe, the i3 would have racked up a total bill of R768,950 including the purchase of the vehicle and electricity costs for charging, compared to the GTI’s R1,415,281, with other tangible benefits such as fewer emissions also being present with EVs.

“This indicates a strong business case for the electrification of the 477 hatchback vehicles in the CCT fleet, should suitable electric models be available on the South African market,” said the city.

i3 pilot project

The purpose of the i3 pilot project was for CCT municipal fleet managers who are exploring the procurement of EVs for their fleets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve air quality in cities, and save on operational costs.

“The CCT has set targets and climate change commitments on carbon emissions reduction and the adoption of green energy technologies,” it said.

“This is outlined in the City’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) with a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

As part of the study, the CCT procured five i3 EVs with comparable performance figures to the Golf GTIs that were already in use by the city’s fleet for testing in real-world conditions, selecting to complete the project through the Traffic Services department due to its higher annual mileage than most other government spheres.

Based on past data, Traffic Services vehicles travel on average 50,000km per year, compared to 35,000km for the rest of the departments.

“It was hypothesised that the fuel savings accrued from electrifying this use case would represent a strong business case over a period of five to seven years,” said the CCT.

At the time of purchase, the i3 cost the CCT R608,755, with the Golf GTI costing R587,951, both prices including a 5-year maintenance plan.

The i3 then provided a range of 260km which at an average electricity cost of R2.30 per kWh would translate into 3,319km of range for every R1,000 spent on electricity.

The GTI achieves a range of approximately 600km on a full tank, and with petrol prices assumed to be R22.30 per litre, it would provide a far lower 735km of range for every R1,000 spent on fuel.

The i3s were also effectively used as patrol vehicles within the Cape Town CBD by traffic law enforcement officers with no glaring shortcomings.

Lessons learned

The findings of the EV pilot project show that there is a compelling financial justification to switch the 477 hatchbacks in the CCT fleet to EVs, provided they are within price parity with internal combustion engine cars and fit for the purpose of the government department that will be using them, said the city.

As EVs become more affordable and their range increase, this argument will become even more persuasive.

Furthermore, battery-electric vehicles will contribute significantly to reducing GHG emissions and reaching the city’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in addition to improving Cape Town’s air quality.

However, a suitable fast-charging network should be developed that enables staff to charge their vehicles during a shift if required in order to mitigate the risks of running out of range while on the job, said the CCT.

As part of the pilot project, the CCT installed six chargers with two of these being solar-powered, but this isn’t nearly enough to accommodate the entire fleet should it be switched over to EVs.

“Municipal fleet managers who are exploring the procurement of EVs for their fleets now have this case study to refer to and use as part of their business motivations,” concluded CCT Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Theresa Uys.

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