South Africa’s Increasing EV Charging Infrastructure
South Africa’s uptake of new energy vehicles (NEVs) including plug-in electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, has been on the rise creating demand for more electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
South Africa’s automotive industry lobby, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), says for the first nine months of 2022, a total of 3,092 NEVs, were sold compared to 896 units sold for the full year 2021, an increase equivalent of 245.1 percent.
For the second quarter 2022 sales by 13 industry brands increased by 29.1 percent from 738 units in the second quarter to 953 units in the third quarter 2022.
Currently, South Africa’s charging infrastructure and network consists of approximately 316 publicly accessible charging stations, an equivalent of one public charging station for four EVs according to an EV market intelligence report by South Africa-based non-profit organization, GreenCape. Most of these charging stations are found in Gauteng and are largely AC charging stations taking up to six hours to arrive at full charge according to GreenCape.
“The number and coverage of EV charging station infrastructure in SA have both grown significantly, such that the major highways and national roads have charge points spaced within ~300km of each other,” the report observes.
However, in major cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, EV drivers are likely to locate a charge point within 20km made up of a mix of connector technology including CHAdeMO, China’s Guo Bio and Combined Charging System (CCS).
South Africa’s automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), car importers and distributors, as well as other automotive industry value chain firms, are launching new EV charging infrastructure and developing new apps to meet an anticipated demand by the growing EV owners.
Audi South Africa, in partnership with GridCars Ltd, a manufacturer of Electric Vehicle charge points and back-office charge point management systems, in August 2022 became the first company to install ultra-fast 150kW electric vehicle (EV) chargers in South Africa.
The chargers are available to all South Africans to use, regardless of the brand or model vehicle they own, according to information on the company’s website.
Audi says it recently switched on the last 33 out of the total of 70 plugs across the country, with four of these being of the ultra-fast variety.
“The live 150kW (DC) public chargers initiated by Audi are the first for the South African market and will enable +/- 340km driving range in approximately 30 minutes,” said Audi.
“These chargers have been strategically positioned along national roads to support long-distance travel,” the company added.
The four Ultra-fast 150kW DC charging stations are now available at N1 – Colesburg, Caltex (Northern Cape), N2-Mosselbay, Langeberg Mall (Western Cape), N3 – Tugela North, Engen, (Kwa-Zulu Natal) and N4 – Riverside Mall, Mbombela, (Mpumalanga)
These stations can provide up to 340km of range in approximately 30 minutes.
Audi has also installed 80kW DC charging stations at five locations on N1, N2, N3, N4 highways with capability of providing up to 185km of range in approximately 30 minutes.
Elsewhere, in October 2022, a new electric vehicle charging app and network of stations was unveiled in South Africa, the first ever such technology specifically for electric vehicle drivers.
The app was launched by Zimi Charge, a South African-based electric vehicle charging platform that enables EV drivers charge their cars with 100 percent renewable energy across the country.
The app, which is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, allows customers to pay for their charging session, directly from their phone according to Zimi.
Zimi Charge CEO Michael Maas says his firm is “excited to launch this new product in South Africa as it will help us address one of the biggest challenges facing electric vehicle owners when they are away from home.”
“As more people adopt electric vehicles, it is important that there is a solution available which makes it easy for everyone to access the infrastructure needed to charge their vehicle anywhere they go,” he said.
Zimi intends to roll out an additional 1,000 stations by 2025 across South Africa, “all powered with renewable energy.”
The company’s long-term strategy is to negotiate with independent charge point operators “to onboard all existing public stations in South Africa onto the app.”
It allows users to find nearby charging stations, see the price and availability of a station and pay for their sessions using multiple payment options including Apple and Google Pay.
Meanwhile, Naamsa said in October this year it has received nine proposals from local and international companies with an interest in installing public charging infrastructure for EVs across South Africa.
The planned EV charging stations would be installed on the N1, N2 and N3 highways and spread between 100km and 300km.
“We are now going to provide charging infrastructure together as an industry,” said Mike Mabasa, Naamsa’s CEO.
“We have put all our money into one basket, to make sure we increase the scale and impact of the infrastructure we roll out,” he said.
Moreover, some of South Africa’s automotive industry OEMs, car importers and distributors have responded to the increasing EV uptake by announcing new products and projects including Volvo that launched its first EV in SA in mid-May 2021.
This Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge, has a range of 418km and can be charged from 0 percent to 80 percent in 40 minutes using a DC fast charger and in 8–10 hours with 11kW AC charging.
The twin electric motors deliver 304kW (408hp) of power and 660Nm of torque, allowing it to go from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
“Volvo SA is rolling out a network of charging stations at its dealerships and will launch four additional models over the next five years with the company planning to produce EVs exclusively from 2030,” the company said in a statement.
Earlier in 2020, Shell South Africa launched its first EV charging stations within its retail network.
Others that have installed different DC charging technology options in South Africa include BMW, Ford, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz.
Growth of South Africa’s EV market is expected to continue as vehicle manufacturers in the country strive to meet the emission targets of key export markets especially Europe where vehicles worth ZAR 201 billion (US$11 billion) are exported to, annually.
“In 2030, 40% of all vehicle sales in Europe may be EVs, and we believe that number can increase to 80% by 2040,” says Mabasa.
“It is clear that we cannot ignore EVs if we want to continue doing business with Europe,” he adds.
“We are steadily moving from an industry that, for 100 years, has relied on vehicles that are standalone, mechanically controlled and petroleum fueled, to automobiles that will soon be interconnected, electronically controlled, and fueled by different energy sources and drivetrains,” says Mabasa.
Shem Oirere is Parking Today’s on the ground reporter in Africa. He can be reached at email@example.com.