Audi

Audi believes now is the right time for electric cars in South Africa – Here’s why

audi, auto, autos, car, cars, features, audi believes now is the right time for electric cars in south africa – here’s why

In the first episode of MyBroadband’s new show What’s Next in Motoring, head of Audi South Africa Sascha Sauer said he believes now is the right time for electric vehicles (EV) in our market as the charging network has been sufficiently developed, the manufacturer has the correct portfolio to meet local needs, and that he saw no reason to “withhold any modern technology from the South African market.”

Additionally, in less than four years Audi will cease to launch new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and the remaining time for a fundamental brand transformation is little, and it decided that starting the process sooner is better than later.

What also spurred the launch of six new EVs at once is the fact that the government is obligated to start taking action in the near future with regard to moving towards a more sustainable tomorrow as South Africa is one of the countries that has signed the Paris climate agreement, said Sauer.

audi, auto, autos, car, cars, features, audi believes now is the right time for electric cars in south africa – here’s why

Changing attitudes on EVs

South Africans are not particularly warming up to EVs despite the vehicles being on our roads for over a decade.

According to Sauer, the majority of resistance sits around range anxiety, home charging, and public charging infrastructure somewhat lacking against the prevalence and convenience of fuel filling stations.

To quell these concerns, Audi in partnership with GridCars has invested a substantial sum in upgrading the national charging grid and it’s also the first manufacturer to install ultra-fast 150kW chargers that are available to the public regardless of the brand of EV they own.

Select Audi dealerships have also gone as far as to offer their e-tron customers a “world-first” solar-powered home charger.

Furthermore, Sauer said the subsidiary is “working on another wave of investment to install another 40 chargers in the country” and that the infrastructure and businesses surrounding EVs are expected to boom in the coming years.

audi, auto, autos, car, cars, features, audi believes now is the right time for electric cars in south africa – here’s why

Addressing the issue of range anxiety, Audi’s research revealed that the average commuting distance for local motorists sits somewhere around 50km per day, and most EVs are perfectly capable of satisfying this need, said Sauer.

Additionally, EV owners have shown to change their habits and usage patterns when it comes to operating the battery-powered car as they get used to charging it overnight at home, similar to a smartphone or laptop, or in a public area where they are already planning to spend a decent amount of time.

This way it generally has hundreds of kilometres on tap at any given moment, and only in the rarest of instances will it go completely flat due to a lack of charge points, he said.

If you are one of the select few who drives hundreds of kilometres each day, Sauer admits an EV might not be for you just yet.

However, if you’re part of the majority of people who don’t cover nearly as much distance, an EV is a perfectly-capable replacement for an equivalent ICE even as things currently stand.

audi, auto, autos, car, cars, features, audi believes now is the right time for electric cars in south africa – here’s why

What’s next for EVs in South Africa

The initial price of EVs is still one of the major hurdles for South Africans looking to become early adopters, but headways are being made with the government to change this.

“We know there are ongoing discussions with various industry bodies, with the ministry of transport and industry, to find ways how the current system could be further improved in order to give the EV and hybrid plug-in cars more of a favourable price point in the market,” said Sauer.

Currently, the government has instituted a “prohibitive system” for electric adoption as manufacturers pay 7%-higher import duties on EV components than ICE parts.

“This is different from other countries who are doing the opposite and incentivizing electric cars in order to help transition and transform the industry,” he said.

For Audi South Africa in particular, Sauer promises at least one new electric model will be launched every year from 2022 forward.

The next new model is coming “early next year” and he pointed toward the brand’s recently-unveiled concept cars, such as the Grandsphere and Skysphere, hinting at the design and technologies that the upcoming generation of Audi EVs will boast.

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