Just how important is affordability to electric vehicle buyers in South Africa?

The quirky-looking BMW i3 tops AutoTrader's list of most-viewed electric vehicles.
The quirky-looking BMW i3 tops AutoTrader's list of most-viewed electric vehicles.
Image: SUPPLIED

Countries worldwide are racing to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions ahead of the COP26 climate change summit in November this year, with the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) playing a role. And here at home it appears that EVs could be replacing the gas-guzzlers owned by South Africa’s increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.

But which EVs do South Africans want? Based on data on AutoTrader, South Africans consider affordability as one of their most important purchasing criteria.

An analysis of AutoTrader data covering the period January 1 2021 to March 31 2021 reveals that the quirky-looking BMW i3 tops the list of most-viewed EVs. The compact entry-level EV (125kW of power and 250Nm of torque) won’t break the bank, as a 2015 model can be purchased for under R400,000.

Ranked second, with only 5% fewer views, is the recently launched Porsche Taycan. With a price tag exceeding R2m, the sleek Taycan delivers more bang for your buck. Depending on the configuration, it generates up to 560kW of power and 1050Nm of torque. The base model Porsche Taycan, which is probably more comparable to current EVs in the market, generates 240kW with 345Nm of torque.

However, the more affordable Jaguar I-Pace is not far behind in popularity, with its 294kW of power and 696Nm of torque. The third-most viewed EV on AutoTrader, the I-Pace, however generated just less than 50% of the Taycan's views.

Generating 135kW of power, the three-door MINI Hatch Cooper SE came in fourth, with again 51% fewer views than the I-Pace, but still outperformed the Nissan Leaf.

Interestingly, when comparing the top three, it is the I-Pace which offers the best range (up to 470km), while the i3 only offers a maximum range of up to 260km and the Taycan delivers 354 to 431km.

George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, highlights that while the uptake of EVs in SA has been slow, mainly as a result of high prices driven by high import taxes, they are becoming an increasingly viable option for local motorists.

“Automotive manufacturers are continuously improving the range of EVs as well as charging station infrastructure. Charging infrastructure in SA is impressive and it is constantly growing. We’re a long way off markets like China — where 433,000 EVs were sold in the first three months of this year — however, the automotive future in SA is certainly looking increasingly green,” he concludes.


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