The biggest roadblock for electric vehicles in South Africa – and it’s not load shedding

 ·28 May 2023

Despite growing in popularity, the high costs of electric vehicles are seen as a major obstacle for consumers.

In its 2023 Global Automotive Consumer Study, Deloitte said South Africa is moving to an electric mobility future, with the preference for gasoline/diesel cars decreasing.

The preference for gasoline/diesel dropped to 74% in the 2023 survey, down from 84% in the 2022 survey.

Although the preference for all-powered battery-powered vehicles (BEVs) has remained flat at 2%, the preference for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) has increased to 13% and 9%, respectively.

“The needle is moving toward an electric mobility future,” Deloitte said.


Deloitte, 2023


Although the EVs are far more environmentally friendly, their major draw continues to centre around lower fuel costs.

Thus, the number one reason for choosing an EV continues to be the lower fuel costs, with concerns about climate change in second place.

The third top reason was the better driving experience.

Less maintenance and concerns about personal health completed the top five in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Problems with EVs 

Although South Africans may be turning to electric vehicles, many in the country still have reservations.

The biggest perceived issue for BEVs amongst those surveyed was the lack of charging infrastructure across the country, with 53% citing it as their greatest concern.

Deloitte said this underlined the need for public-private partnerships to address the issue.

However, as reported by Moneyweb, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) said it was issuing tenders worth millions of rands to install charging infrastructure across the country.

Naamsa said that it received bids from four local and five international companies for the tender, all with experience in the field.

The second largest concern is related to the time required to charge BEVs, with exactly half of the respondents citing it as a concern.

Deloitte 2023

The third biggest issue is related to the overall cost of BEVS.

According to the study, most Internal Combusting Engine (ICE) and EV intenders want to pay less than R750,000 for their next vehicle, which provides a potential affordability risk given the rising transaction costs.

Currently, the cheapest BEV in South Africa is the GWM ORA, which has a starting price of R716,900, with the top-spec model costing R915,900. 

However, only 25% of EV intenders will pay for the cheapest version of the ORA.

The only other BEV below R750,000 is the Mini Cooper SE, which retails at R742,102.

This means that 52% of EV intenders would be priced out of the BEV market from the get-go.

Deloitte 2023

In addition, the majority of EV intenders plans to charge their vehicle at home.

However, for those who do not want to install a home charging station, the main reason (47%) cited was the high installation costs.

Overall, extrapolating from the data, the high costs associated with getting and charging a BEV are proving to be significant inhibitors of greener-transport solutions.

Read: New Chinese car maker launching in South Africa – what to expect

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