Fuel saving in South Africa – petrol vs hybrid vs electric cars

 ·1 Jun 2024

When considering fuel-saving metrics, it will take drivers a couple of years to claw back their investment in hybrid or electric vehicles.

Unlike many other nations, South Africa is still very far behind in adopting hybrid and electric vehicles, with cost a significant factor.

South Africa currently has a 25% import tax on EVs, far lower than the 18% it levies on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Other countries offer tax incentives to increase EV uptake.

Although outgoing Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said that there will be tax reductions on investments in the local production of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, this is primarily for exports and not South Africa’s own market

Another uniquely South African issue is load shedding, with Eskom barely being able to keep the lights on currently without further strain on the grid caused by the charging requirements of these cars.

Although not completely “green”, hybrid cars can offer the best of both worlds through an ICE engine that powers a battery.

With the costs of hybrids and electrics still far above their ICE, the fuel-saving benefit becomes the most important factor when comparing costs.

Our own comparison shows that it can take a few years to “break even,” with hybrids taking a few years longer as they still use fuel.

Hybrid vs ICE – Toyota Corolla Cross

The Toyota Corolla Cross is one of the best-selling cars in South Africa and is the cheapest hybrid available.

While the retail price for a petrol version starts from R408,400, the hybrid starts at R486,100.

A person who drives 20,000 km per year inland and uses 95 petrol would save roughly R13,303 per year in fuel by driving a hybrid.

This means it will take just under six years to hit the break-even point, where the fuel saving results in an overall saving.

Corolla CrossPetrolHybridDifference
Retail PriceR408 400R486 100R77 700
Fuel Consumption6.8l4.3l2.5l
Drive 20 000 kmR35 224R21 921R13 303
Break Even Point 5.84 years

Electric vs Petrol Vehicles

We compared the price and fuel efficiency of a Mini Copper 3-Door Hatch and a Mini Cooper SE for the electric comparison.

In terms of price, the electric models come at over R100,000 more.

However, as the electric car does not use fuel, the savings would total R30,000 per year, meaning that it would take just over three years to hit the break-even point.

Mini Cooper 3 DoorPetrolElectricDifference
Retail PriceR610 884R 713 702R102 818
Fuel Consumption6.0l
Drive 20 000 kmR30 588
Break Even Point 3.36 years

It should be noted that these are just examples, and potential savings could revolve around several other aspects, such as driving distance per year, the fuel price at the time, and the car chosen.

With the world slowly transiting to greener cars, these differences could lower even further in the coming years when South Africa eventually joins the party.

Read: Parents are looking at a future for their kids outside South Africa

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