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Taking your driving test in an EV won't allow you to drive a petrol or diesel car

19 January 2022 - 17:30
Using an electric vehicle to take your driver's licence test will limit you to driving EVs only. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Using an electric vehicle to take your driver's licence test will limit you to driving EVs only. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Should learner drivers pass their test in an electric vehicle (EV), then the obtained licence will be authorised for EVs only.

This is what Tony Marsay, a retired K53 instructor, discovered when he offered his electric BMW i3 to an associate to use in a driving test at the Randburg Driver's Licence Testing Centre (DLTC).

The National Road Traffic Act section 18(4) states that “(a) in the case where the applicant (of a driver’s licence) has in terms of subsection (2) provided a motor vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission or the motor vehicle is electrically powered, endorse the driving licence to the effect that authorisation is granted only for the driving of a motor vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission or which is electrically powered, as the case may be.”

Understandably this was a shock to Marsay who found a conventionally powered alternative for the learner driver to use instead. A regular EB code licence applies to all light vehicles whether they're powered by petrol, diesel or batteries.

The BMW i3 is among a growing number of fully electric cars on sale in SA. Picture: SUPPLIED
The BMW i3 is among a growing number of fully electric cars on sale in SA. Picture: SUPPLIED

With more EVs being launched in SA, it is a potential pitfall for owners of battery-powered cars who may be unaware of the legislation.

It isn’t known whether the department of transport plans to change the legislation, which was penned in 1996.

Mikel Mabasa, chair of Naamsa, expressed surprise that the legislation pertaining to this matter hadn’t been amended to accommodate EV owners but he said that a request to government for an amendment of the policy will be included in the white paper on sustainable energy vehicles that his organisation is working on.

“Legislation has to be consistent and it must ensure it does not prejudice consumers,” said Mabasa. 


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