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SA motorists seem keen to hit the road to sustainability

29 October 2020 - 17:12 By Motoring Reporter
The 2020 South Africa EV Car Buyer Survey found that 74% of respondents said they would purchase an EV within the next five years.
The 2020 South Africa EV Car Buyer Survey found that 74% of respondents said they would purchase an EV within the next five years.
Image: Supplied

As the country battles escalating unemployment alongside issues of crime and corruption, are South Africans really interested in saving the planet? The 2020 SA EV Car Buyer Survey, produced by AutoTrader in partnership with Generation.e (organiser of the Smarter Mobility Africa event), suggests that the answer is yes.

In advance of Smarter Mobility Africa Live, a virtual summit which takes place from October 27-29, AutoTrader — a sponsor and partner of the event — conducted a comprehensive survey into the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.

The results were somewhat surprising: 86% of respondents said that they would use an EV as their primary vehicle while 74% said that they would buy an EV within the next five years.

This signifies a new approach towards sustainability in this country, as George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, points out.

“SA is still in the starting blocks when it comes to EV adoption. Only 2% of consumers own an EV and 13% have driven one. But this survey signifies that South Africans are now embracing sustainability. The number of charging points per EV in SA is already one of the highest in the world, and the propensity of consumers to go the EV route really bodes well for the planet,” he maintains.

The trend comes at a time when increased focus will be placed on sustainability at Smarter Mobility Africa. Of course, this isn’t just happening here. The UN has drawn global attention to the necessity for a greater focus on sustainability with its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The agenda is a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development worldwide by 2030. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda was a landmark achievement, providing for a shared global vision towards sustainable development for all,” explains Mienie.

While the motor industry has a role to play in meeting the 2030 Agenda — CO2 emissions caused by cars do make a substantial contribution to global warming — all role players and industry sectors will need to unite and make a contribution.

“After all, the goals of the 2030 Agenda are all-embracing. They range from ending hunger to achieving gender equality. Clearly, a massive concerted global effort will be required,” Mienie notes.

The good news is that there is already meaningful progress in this regard. For the first time, solar and wind made up the majority of the world’s new power generation last year.

Solar additions last year totalled 119 gigawatts, representing 45% of all new capacity, according to research by BloombergNEF. Together, solar and wind accounted for more than two-thirds of the additions.

“That’s up from less than a quarter of all new power plants in 2010,” Mienie points out.

The good news is that SA’s long coastline provides favourable conditions for wind power, while the semi-arid climate and flat terrain in some regions receive high irradiation, making them ideal for solar power.

Even China — the world’s top-polluting nation — appears to have boarded the sustainability bus.

“Bloomberg has reported that China’s President Xi Jinping has pledged that the country will become carbon neutral by 2060. Thus, while 2030 looks to be a good year for our planet, even more will be achieved in time to come,” concludes Mienie.

The 2020 SA EV Car Buyer Survey report is available free, here.