Brits lap up electric cars, but minimal interest from South Africans

Record sales of EVs and PHEVs show that UK is rapidly embracing the electric car while South Africa is slow on the uptake

09 January 2019 - 09:10 By Phuti Mpyane
Mercedes-Benz’s first all-electric car, the EQC, is expected to go sale globally in March 2019. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mercedes-Benz’s first all-electric car, the EQC, is expected to go sale globally in March 2019. Picture: SUPPLIED

Experts are advising UK consumers who feel ready to cross over to pure electric cars to take the plunge, this from an expected surge in EV (Electric Vehicle) and PHEV (Plug-in-Hybrid Electric Vehicle) sales beyond 2019. According to new-car registration figures in that region, the sector has grown 69% compared with a 3% slump for the car market overall in the latest registration figures.

DrivingElectric.com, an independent consumer advice website with a core focus on electric cars and PHEVs, says statistics show that the gap between the popularity of battery and internal combustion cars is shrinking, with nearly one in every one-hundred cars registered in November being pure electric.

Additionally, the specialist websites warns that lead times from order to delivery of EVs may grow as demand rises.

“EVs are already often taking a little longer to arrive with customers as global demand for the technology grows faster than for conventional vehicles. During 2018 the total of all new car registrations was nearly seven per cent down by November compared with the same period in 2017. But pure electric cars were up by over ten per cent. And in November itself, compared to the same month a year ago, the overall market was 3% smaller while battery electric vehicles were nearly 70% ahead on the same month last year,” said Vicky Parrott, Associate Editor of DrivingElectric.com.

Research compiled by the site shows that lead times for electric cars in the UK typically stretch from 10 or 12 weeks - roughly comparable with petrol or diesel cars - to an expected six months for the trending new Jaguar I-PACE.

Hopes hinge on Jaguar’s new electric I-Pace to prickle the interest of local consumers. Picture: SUPPLIED
Hopes hinge on Jaguar’s new electric I-Pace to prickle the interest of local consumers. Picture: SUPPLIED

The story is different from a South African perspective. The uptake in EVs or PHEVs has been rather lethargic since the dawn of the electric revolution. It’s been a bleak outlook for the brands that sell Evs or hybrids, which include Land Rover, Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Leo Kok, industry PR consultant at Mediaserve, estimates that out of 512 217 new vehicles sold in SA in the first 11 months of 2018, only around 369 hybrid and electric vehicles account for that total figure, giving them a 0,07 percentage slice of the total market.

With official and rumoured discontinuations of some EVs like Toyota’s Prius, Auris and Yaris Hybrids and Nissan’s Leaf, it’s a gloomy outlook for EVs and PHEVs alike come 2019. On a positive note, exciting new entrants like the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQC, BMW’s 120Ah i3 and Jaguar’s I-Pace, with the latter bringing with it a network of new high-speed chargers to be planted along the country’s main highways, may counter the slump or perhaps even awaken the electric revolution in South Africa.

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