What to Consider when buying an EV
You probably know by now that the automotive world is going electric as most manufacturers push towards one common goal; zero emissions.
The truth of the matter, though, is that electric vehicles have a huge role to play, and over the past few years, the number of EVs on SA roads has increased as more people are embracing the change.
While electric cars in South Africa cost a fortune, some can afford them, and as more and more manufacturers join the fray, EVs will be readily available even to the average consumer.
That said, several factors can be very tricky given the complexity of owning an electric vehicle, especially in South Africa, where our electricity infrastructure is questionable at best.
Many will agree that the local EV charging network may be growing steadily. Still, it's advisable to have a workable charging plan to determine where you will be charging your vehicle.
Almost all electric vehicles on sale in SA today come with home chargers that allow owners to plug in their cars to a regular 220-230-Volt wall socket, but it takes several hours for the battery pack to fully recharge.
Though it's the easiest, there are pitfalls, such as the installation fee that most manufacturers charge for the fitment of the wall box recharging socket and then, of course, there's load shedding.
If not, the number of charging stations nationwide has significantly grown, allowing EV owners to charge their vehicles at the dealership or dedicated charging stations at the mall or shopping centres. It's worth pointing out that charging stations vary in terms of charging capabilities, i.e. fast and ordinary chargers.
Most cities have several charging points, but the same can not be said about remote areas, so do your research before deciding to take the electric plunge.
The Driving Range and Battery Capacity?
It's one question that always pops up... In real-world driving conditions, the range is everything, and everything influences it, whether direct or indirect.
In a typical case scenario, an electric vehicle should travel at least 100 km on a single charge which should be adequate for daily drives. Want to go further? No problem. Most high-end cars, such as the BMW iX xDrive 50 and Audi e-Tron, can travel up to 630 km and 452 km on a single charge, enough to curb range anxiety.
The capacity of the battery also plays a vital role in the range; for instance, the higher the battery capacity, the better the driving range.
Don't let added costs catch you by surprise after you've signed on the dotted lines. These can come in the form of purchasing a home charger or rate to use a dedicated EV charger or electricity costs if you will be charging your vehicle at home.
Depending on the manufacturer, most charge extra for installing a home charger, which can become a painful expense if you aren't prepared for it.
Battery Pack Warranty
Replacing a battery pack is a costly undertaking. It's essential to read the fine print and know precisely what you are getting.
Vehicles such as the Audi e-Tron are backed by an 8-year/160,000 km battery warranty which covers the cost of repairs or part replacements due to mechanical failure.
EVs are generally practical compared to ICE-powered alternatives due to the lack of transmission and driveline tunnels, but that doesn't always mean they're all practical. Doing detailed research on your intended use of the car is a good idea.
Thankfully, the EV fold in Mzansi caters for everyone. You get the likes of the tiny Mini SE and bigger Audi e-Tron, BMW iX and Jaguar I-Pace, to name a few. If practicality isn't at the top of your list, the Porsche Taycan and Audi RS e-Tron GT models are definitely worth a look.
Though it may take years for the South African EV charging infrastructure to be rolled out everywhere, GridCars, in partnership with Audi, has installed 70 EV chargers across South Africa with capacities ranging between 22 kW AC, 80 kW DC, and 150 kW DC ultra-fast charging.
That at least proves we are going somewhere as a country. The progress may be slow, and until SA can overcome some of its most significant hurdles, hybrids and plug-in hybrid models remain the go-to models.