In the last quarter of 2018, the Tesla 3 electric vehicle (EV) was the best-selling medium luxury car in the USA. This year, Forbes reported that Tesla Is On Track To Become America’s #1 Premium Automotive Company, Ahead Of BMW, Mercedes-Benz.
On Twitter, Tesla’s Elon Musk committed to Tesla stores opening in South Africa late in 2019.
The new Jaguar I-Pace launches in South Africa in April 2019. It will be the first serious EV contender in SA with a range of almost 500 km, but a price of over R1.5 million. In December 2018, the I-Pace was the best-selling car in the Netherlands, beating all other cars (not just EV) with sales of 2,621 units – notwithstanding the hefty price tag. The Audi e-tron will be launched in South Africa in the middle of 2019. Audi predict that by 2025 globally, one in three Audis will be electric. Volkswagen have been testing their Golf replacement — the VW ID — in South Africa (see below) and that, along with the Toyota EV, should introduce EVs for the mass South African market from next year.
Walmart in the USA has announced that their stores will have EV charging facilities in 34 states by the end of 2019, providing customers with the facility to charge their EVs in the time it takes them to do their shopping. They are installing 150kW — 350kW chargers at a cost of US$2 billion. The Jaguar i-Pace only caters for a 100kW charger and, of all the manufacturers, only Porsche has committed to 350kW chargers for its new EV later in 2019. The VW EV caters for a 120kW charger. Walmart says that a good EV charging experience is the key to retaining and gaining customers.
Will PicknPay, Woolworths, etc, demand EV charging stations from their landlords?
The Tesla Supercharger is a 480-volt DC fast-charging station. The Supercharger network was introduced in 2012 and, as of December 2018, their network consisted of 11,414 individual Supercharger stalls at 1,375 locations worldwide.
Tesla supercharging stations charge with up to 135 kW of power distributed between two cars with a maximum of 120 kW per car. They take about 20 minutes to charge to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100% on the original 85 kWh Model S. The next version of Supercharging is expected to charge with more than 350 kW, and charging times will be slashed to 30% of current times. (In Australia, charging stations of up to 450kW are on the cards.)
Will Tesla bring their supercharging stations to South Africa? And where do we stand in South Africa now?
The Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 have been around for a few years and although the two companies announced collaboration on EV charging stations, there’s little to show for it. In Cape Town, among the first charging stations were at the V&A Waterfront — always a few steps ahead — and Hotel Verde (as part of its green credentials). Jaguar Land Rover has started rolling out its Powerway with 82 charging stations at a cost of R30 million, focusing on the major cities and major routes.
Audi South Africa will be introducing dedicated e-tron dealerships in major urban hubs, equipped with the 150 kWh super-fast chargers, with which the e-tron can be charged to 80% in around 30 minutes.
Don’t expect charging stations to proliferate at existing fuel service stations! Who wants to spend an hour or even 15 minutes hanging around while your EV charges. But you’ll be happy to spend the time at a restaurant or shopping or at a gym. EV charging points are complementary to quality experiences or necessary chores.
Charging stations will become a feature along major routes… but what of the lesser routes? I realised this while visiting Route 62 recently. In the next few years, the N1 and N2 freeways will be catered for, and if Route 62 doesn’t do the same, it’s going to lose out badly. This is an opportunity for Route 62 to entice the early adopters of EVs to become loyal customers.
How do you go about it and who will partner you?
Around 80% of SA’s charging stations currently being installed by Gridcars, who have been contracted by BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and others. By April 2019, they will have charging stations every 100-150km along the N1 between Cape Town and Pretoria, N2 between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and N3 between Johannesburg and Durban. Most will be 24-hour charging stations and have connected payment gateways.
These include 60kW DC fastchargers and SA will probably have to wait until Tesla and other major players enter the market before seeing superchargers and better.
So if your business wants to install a charger to attract business, what do you need to do? Wait a few months seems to be the answer. Companies like GridCars will probably start looking then for joint ventures after they finish the current roll out. But if you don’t start planning now, you will be left out!