The E-car has landed in the world with a thump but, until there are some serious changes in the thinking of politicians, they cannot thrive in South Africa.
The E-car has landed, the first as the Daily Maverick’s Number One of The Best Rides of 2019, and the second, by good fortune in our own garage. However, the two vehicles are chalk and cheese. One is top of the range and very expensive, and ours rather old but with a new lithium ion battery.
Now that the batteries have improved in leaps and bounds, E-cars are without a doubt, as certain as digital cameras, the future. Mind you, we said that about Kindle books too; paper backs and hard covers are still very much with us.
E-cars have not taken off in South Africa and no one is sure if they ever will. The government is clearly against them in stark contrast to Europe’s latest Green Deal; new measures will make fossil fuel vehicles very expensive in the near future.
But in South Africa import tax on E-cars is nearly double that of any petrol and diesel vehicle.
Why is that? Well, one can only speculate, but I have to presume that Eskom’s woes is top of the list. If there was a sudden flood of E-cars on the market, demand for electricity would rise, increasing the likelihood of load-shedding.
And secondly, every litre of fuel we purchase contributes R3.50 to the General Fuel Levy; the average car contributes about R3,500 directly to the State’s coffers every year.
Add to that R2 for the Road Accident Fund, 10c a litre for the carbon tax, then we are talking about R5.50 per litre that the government will be losing in revenue when someone buys an E-car. In short, every time you fill up your 50 litre tank you are contributing about R280 to the state. We top up on about 20 ocassions in a year which is going to mean a saving of nearly R6,000. The state is not going to like that.
Servicing of an E-car costs less than R1,000 pa. There are so few moving parts in comparison, no oil, spark plugs, air filters, bla-di-bla. And the regenerative braking, charging the battery instead of wearing out the brake pads means less maintenance there too.
But then of course there is the battery. Right now that is guaranteed for seven years, but the new Tesla batteries are expected to last a million miles. It is a huge unknown, but expect it to be costly to pay for research and development.
Motor vehicle companies make a lot of their money our of repairs and maintenance; with the loss of that income from E-cars, they have gone the route of giving them all the bells and whistles and making them extremely expensive. The Jaguar I-Pace costs a not so cool R1.6 million.
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Our Nissan Leaf is six years old, has few frills, but a new battery, and has a range of about 160km, as compared to the Jaguar with an expected 450 km; we will not be driving ours to Cape Town. But both of them get huge eco-cred. I am not in the Jag-Merc-BMW league. Our car has to pay its way whilst contributing to a greener planet; best of all the battery will be charged from the excess power from our solar farm.
Thanks to government policy there are only apparently about 1000 E-cars in SA; we are privileged to have one of them. We will keep you updated in the months ahead as to whether it was a totally ludicrous idea; a battery capable of delivering 300 km would be nice.
And finally a word gleaned from the press in New Jersey by an American cousin.
Here is an article on NJ's planned bill for E-car incentives.
There will be a NJ tax incentive up to $5000, in addition to a federal rebate. I learned that the Fed one goes from $2500-7500 based on car's battery capacity; that gives a total of around $10,000.
State sales tax (7 %) will continued to be waived. Consumers would get $25/mile rebate of the eligible vehicle's electric power range, up to a max of $5000 for cars with a sticker price of $55000 or less.
They mention the base price of all E-cars will be in the range $30,000 to 35,000.
Consumer reports a Chevy Bolt with a 200 mile range starts around $37,000. The one they tested got 250.
They talk about range anxiety; folks worry about running out of juice. That is why hybrids are so popular; they are giving rebates for them too, but much less.
NJ had 26,000 e-cars at end of 2018 (7th in US) but last in the number of charging stations; that will be remedied by the new bill too. They want 827 new stations.
The E-car has landed in South Africa but it is having a bumpy ride. It remains a luxury for the tiny minority of greenies who are committed to the future of the planet, and are relatively wealthy. We were just lucky.
The Coronavirus has just added a new dimension. It thrives in those parts of the world where there is very high air pollution. It is estimated in our city by the authorities that motor vehicles cause 89% of that smog.
There are at least 20,000 deaths in South Africa every year from air pollution; that is relatively low by world standards. If more E-cars landed it would start saving a lot of lives from heart and lung conditions, including C-19.
Building a solar farm on your roof or in your garden is the future in South Africa and in much of the world. With our new inclination for reliable green energy it is the way to go, and it will certainly pay its way.
Our solar powered generator has been astonishingly successful, but not without its hiccups.
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