How much it costs to buy and own an electric car in South Africa

A recent report by Ashburton investments found that South Africa should prepare for the advent of electric cars, noting the possible effects they are likely to have on the industry and consumers.

While the full impact of the electric-car is still some way off, driving an electronic car or hybrid is becoming an increasingly attractive option in South Africa as a means to negate the volatile fuel price and as the motor industry becomes increasingly environmentally conscious.

The increase in electric-only models such as the Nissan Leaf may just be the tipping point as the vehicles become more affordable, while petrol prices increase.

BusinessTech looks at the cost factors associated with buying and owning an electric or hybrid car in South Africa.

South Africa currently only has three electric models, with Tesla touted to enter the market sometime in the future.

Electric models

  • BMW i3  – R606,800
  • 0.0 L/100 km

  • Nissan Leaf  – R474,900
  • 0.0 L/100 km

  • BMW i3 eDrive REx – R683,600
  • 0.0 L/100 km

Hybrid cars

At present there are three different types of hybrid cars in South Africa: full hybrids, combined hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Full hybrids typically allow you to swap between petrol and electric modes at will, combined hybrids will always use a combination of both, and plug-ins typically use a much larger battery but require an actual plug-in point for it’s not petrol components.

All of these hybrids rely on pulling their electricity from an included battery pack and electric motor but differ in the manner in which they are replenished. These can include systems such as regenerative braking, stop-start’ technology and alternating between the motor/generator at various points of the drive cycle.

  • Mercedes-Benz C350e – R804,900
  • 2.8 L/100 km

  • BMW i8 eDrive  – R2,015,300
  • 2.1 L/100 km

  • Volvo XC90  – R1,117,600
  • 2.1 L/100 km

  • Porsche Cayenne S  – R1,531,000
  • 3.4 L/100 km

  • Toyota Prius – R457,600
  • 3.7 L/100km

  • Lexus CT 200h S – R519,100
  • 4.1 L/100km

  • Infiniti Q50S Hybrid – R709,100
  • 5.4 L/100km

  • BMW X5 xDrive40e eDrive – R1,207,800
  • 3.3 L/100km

Cost of charging 

Just as with petrol cars, the cost of charging differs wildly based on the vehicle’s efficiency.

As an example the 2016 Nissan Leaf currently boasts an official range of 190 km and a 21.25kWh/100km consumption. Assuming an average South African drives 30,000 km a year this equates to around R29.75 per 100 kilometres (at household kWh consumption rates) or R8,925.

While this is notably cheaper than the current petrol price of R13.32 (93 unleaded – 7 June 2017), there is also another cost factor that one has to take into account when owning an electric vehicle – time.

According to a March 2017 Deloitte report, 55% of South African motorists are willing to wait a maximum of only 1 hour to fully charge an all-battery powered electric vehicle. In comparison, it currently takes 3-4 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle at super-charging stations and 6-8 hours at home.

In addition more than half want a minimum distance of more than 400 kilometers from a fully charged electric vehicle while studies show that the majority of electric vehicles currently on the market can only handle between 120 km – 320 km on a single charge.

Charging at home

While all of South Africa’s  electric models support traditional wall charging, it is also possible to install specific charging stations such as BMW’s Wallbox. In comparison to the standard supplied charging cable, the wallbox allows for the charging procedure of the BMW i3 is reduced again by approximately 30%.

Purchase and installation of the Wallbox is treated as an added accessory to a BMW i purchase and you can expect to pay R22,000 for the unit.

It is also subject to comprehensive consultation and individual on-site inspection during which the house’s electrical system can be expanded if necessary.

Charging station locations

According to a recent report as of May 2017, Nissan has a total of nine charging facilities in Gauteng and an additional five locations that are not attached to dealers as part of ongoing support for its Nissan Leaf model.

These public stations are free to use but are primarily AC charging stations meaning the charge time is much longer than DC charging stations.

In comparison, BMW South Africa has seen a greater nationwide roll-out  after it which launched the full electric i3 (and range-extender REX version) in 2015. There are currently 38 BMW i-dealerships dotted around South Africa in 8 provinces.

Nissan, BMW and Growthpoint properties have subsequently entered a Memorandum of Understanding share costs of public charging facilities, which is currently in place until 31 December 2017.

There are currently no Nissan Leaf dealerships outside of Gauteng, although BMW currently boasts 5 dealerships with charging stations attached in KZN, 2 in the Eastern Cape, 1 in the Free State, 1 in Limpop, 2 in Mpumalanga,  and 2 in the North-West.

Gauteng map of charging stations

Western Cape map of charging stations

Prices correct at the time of writing.

You can find a complete list of  Electric and Hybrid vehicles available for sale in South Africa here.

Read: This R20 million penthouse for sale in Cape Town includes a Jaguar F-Pace

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How much it costs to buy and own an electric car in South Africa