Major Auto Companies Want South African Government To Embrace Electric Cars

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
electric cars
Auto manufacturers including Ford, Toyota and BMW want the South African government to embrace electric cars. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Major car brands including BMW and Nissan are uniting in an effort to try and persuade South Africa that the future of the automobile is electric.

Some of the challenges a unified electric car market will have to overcome include South Africa’s 23-percent import tariff on electric vehicles and the need for electric charging infrastructure to support the industry, according to Businesstech.

Auto-manufacturing makes up about 7 percent of South Africa’s economy. Seven carmakers run factories in the country including Volkswagen, Isuzu, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota.

In 2018, these manufacturers exported almost 210,000 cars to Europe, Bloomberg reports. 

Vehicle component manufacturers have established production bases in South Africa including Arvin Exhust, Bloxwitch, Corning and Senior Flexonics.

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Many European manufacturers are retooling their factories to produce electric-only cars.

The South African government needs to consider this too if it wants to benefit from export opportunities presented by greener automotive technologies, according to manufacturers doing business in the country.

The manufacturers expect to present their plans and policy suggestions to the government by the end of the year, says Mike Mabasa, CEO of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.

State-owned power producer Eskom will be a stumbling block for electric-car production and adoption in South Africa, says Jeff Osborne of Gumtree Automotive.

Eskom recently reported an annual loss of almost $1.5 billion and requires an $8.8 billion government bailout over the next three years.

The auto industry would rely on the government, through Eskom, to provide charging infrastructure for electric cars — a challenge due to Eskom’s current financial woes.

Eskom, in a media statement, assured the electric car industry that it expects to be able to keep up with the increased energy demands in the future.