Did you know that South Africa currently already has one of the most advanced public EV charging networks in the world, or that load-shedding doesn’t necessarily need to be a deciding factor in a shift towards emissions-free motoring?
Front of mind for companies including GridCars and Rubicon, and supplemented by several mainstream car brands, the public charging infrastructure already available throughout South Africa far outnumbers the current demand for these facilities, with more brands looking to invest in this grid as they plan the introduction of their respective all-electric products into our market.
Included within the asking price of most all-electric vehicles currently on sale in South Africa is a wall-mounted charging box. With the customer able to choose where best to have this charging solution installed, at home or at the office, the owner of an EV can manage the charge of the battery in their car in the same way that they do a modern mobile phone. That said, plugging this device into a power source overnight can enable a full charge each morning, despite the onset of power cuts through the night.
Here's a look at five of the more affordable EV vehicles currently on the South African market:
Chinese brand Great Wall Motors is currently enjoying a purple patch in terms of monthly sales in South Africa, led by its value-focused Haval nameplate. Now, with pricing starting from just below R700 000, its Ora brand of all-electric products is set to become the most affordable passenger EV in South Africa.
The entry-level Ora Super Lux features a 48-kWh battery and is capable of a usable range of up to 310 km. A flagship GT derivative will offer racy styling, a 126 kW/250 N.m electric drivetrain and even includes a launch control setting.
Highlights of the Ora’s cabin include a 10.25-inch, full-colour touchscreen infotainment display with smartphone mirroring, as well as keyless entry and cruise control. Luggage capacity is listed as 228 litres.
The Ora offers a full five-star ANCAP crash test rating.
ORA 03 Super Lux – R686 950
ORA 03 400 Super Lux – R775 950
ORA 400 Ultra luxury – R805 950
ORA GT Ultra luxury – R835 950
BYD Atto 3
Established in 1995, Chinese electric vehicle specialists Build Your Dreams (BYD) is currently the largest producer of all-electric vehicles in the world. Including the production of its own lithium-ion phosphate battery packs, electric motors and transmissions and bespoke in-car software operating systems, the brand’s first product to be offered in South Africa is called the Atto 3.
Significantly, the Atto 3’s drivetrain is also capable of feeding energy from its battery back into a home’s power grid.
Depending on the specification level, this first BYD offers a host of safety, convenience and in-car technology features and boasts an operating range of up to 420 km.
BYD Atto 3 standard - R768 000
BYD Atto 3 extended range - R835 000
Mini Cooper SE
Ahead of this iconic British brand’s shift to a mandated all-electric future – including a recently unveiled all-new Cooper hatch – the current Cooper SE was one of the first vehicles in our market to offer an electric drivetrain accommodated within the otherwise instantly recognisable styling of the rest of the Mini range. Indeed, if it weren’t for the subtle badging, bespoke styling elements that include wheel rims and the absence of a traditional fuel filler nozzle, you wouldn’t necessarily know that this is an electric car.
Set to be replaced by an all-new, build-for-purpose range of EV-only products, the Cooper SE still offers relatively good value within a package that remains as fun to drive as each of its famous forebears.
A relatively small capacity 32.6 kWh battery in the Cooper SE means the operating range is slightly stifled when compared with modern rivals. Anticipate travelling up to 200 km between visits to the charging station.
Mini Cooper SE – R825 089
Volvo XC40 Recharge Single Motor
Another brand with a published deadline for when it’ll no longer produce a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, the Swedish brand Volvo has for several years been reinventing itself as a premium, effortlessly sophisticated alternative to the establishment. Owned by Geely yet with a mandate to pursue its own plans and thinking in terms of design and brand positioning, the XC40 is the most compact of its current family of SUVs.
Available with the choice between a single or, indeed, dual electric motor setup, the former offers still impressive straight-line performance and a claimed operating range of more than 400 kilometres between charges.
A highlight of the XC40’s cabin is its 9-inch, portrait-style infotainment display that incorporates a Google-based operating system.
Volvo XC40 Recharge Single Motor – R1 108 000
BMW is playing the long game when it comes to how best to negotiate the advent of so-called new energy vehicles. That said, while this German brand has long been invested in all-electric and hybrid drivetrain technology via its BMW i division, it remains committed to offering all forms of engine technology – including the possibility of hydrogen – while there remains market demand for each.
Like its locally assembled X3 sibling, the modern X1 is available with a choice of a turbodiesel, turbopetrol or, indeed, an all-electric drivetrain. The latter features one electric motor positioned on each of its axles, front and rear, to make it a member of BMW’s xDrive family of all-wheel drive vehicles.
Including a beautifully crafted, modern interior with the brand’s newest curved infotainment display and operating system, the iX1 is priced similarly to the rest of the modern X1 range, leaving customers with an enticing choice to make.
BMW iX1 xDrive30 – from R1 205 000