Proposed South African fuel changes are seriously bad news for motorists and car manufacturers

In a letter addressed to the Department of Energy, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has voiced its concern about the introduction of “scary” new South African fuel standards.

The letter is in response to draft regulations proposed by the DoE, which will effectively re-introduce additive metals to unleaded fuel in South Africa.

In the letter, Naamsa accuses energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson of “placing South Africans’ lives at risk” by not meeting global standards for clean fuel, sabotaging the competitiveness of the country’s car manufacturing industry, as well as doing a disservice to everyday motorists.

Should the proposals pass, the high manganese content and other pollutants in South African fuel means the country would no longer be able to conform to European standards.

This, in turn, will have wide-ranging effects on both South Africa’s motor manufacturing industry and everyday motorists, Naamsa said.

The effect on South Africa

BusinessTech spoke to Naamsa’s Stuart Rayner as to what effects these regulations would actually have on the country’s motorists.

“Firstly, we are very concerned about the delay of the clean fuels program in South Africa which was originally to be introduced in 2017,” said Rayner.

According to Naamsa, South Africa will be lucky if it sees the bill by 2022.

“Of more immediate concern is the fact that the Department of Energy is considering the re-introduction of metal additives currently prohibited in South Africa’s unleaded fuel.”

“This will have an effect on the type of vehicles South Africa will be able to import, as South Africa would be reclassified as a ‘dirty fuels’ country”.

Rayner noted that this would extend to other motoring technologies available to South Africa, causing the country to lag behind as it continues to fall behind international standards.

“Every day motorists will also be affected, as the additive metals will cause issues with catalytic converters in most modern South African vehicles.”

For manufacturers, this would also mean that two types of cars would have to be produced in the country – one that can be used locally with the altered fuel, and one that meets international standards that can be exported.

Response by Government

Responding to Naamsa’s outrage on the matter, the energy department’s deputy director general of planning and policy‚ Ompi Aphane‚ told TimesLive that government was ‘keeping an open mind’ about the fuel regulation proposals.

“We will take into consideration the inputs and interests of the oil sector‚ the car manufacturing sector‚ the manganese sector‚ health and environment issues‚ as well as the added cost to the consumer if we implement European fuel standards‚” Aphane said,

The official highlighted, however, that “significant capital investment in refineries would be financed by a higher consumer fuel price”.

“In the end‚ we will take the decision which is best for the country‚ obviously taking into account the impact on the export market.”

Read: Big petrol price hike in January

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