The E-car has landed in the world with a thump but, until there are some serious changes in the thinking of politicians, they will not 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 like chalk and cheese. One is top of the range and very expensive, and the other 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 all E-cars are declared luxury vehicles; they attract a 40% import duty, making them impossibly expensive for the man in the street. Only 94 were sold in the whole of 2020.
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 petrol or diesel we purchase contributes over R10 to the General Fuel Levy; the average car contributes about ten-thousand rand directly to the State’s coffers every year.
Included in that is over R2 for the Road Accident Fund, 10c a litre for the carbon tax, then we are talking about ten rand per litre that the government will be losing in revenue when someone buys an E-car.
In short every time you filled up your 50 litre tank in 2021 you were contributing about R500 to the state. We personally used to top up on about 20 occasions in a year which meant a saving of nearly R6,000 in 2019. The state does not like that, I'm sure.
Servicing of an E-car costs less than R1,000 per annum. There are so few moving parts in comparison; no oil, spark plugs or air filters. And the regenerative braking, charging the battery instead of wearing out the brake pads, means less maintenance there too.
Servicing of our E-car came in 2021 to a princely zero; virtually nothing needed doing.
But then of course there is the battery. Right now that is guaranteed for seven years, but the new Tesla lithium-ions are expected to last a million miles. It is a huge unknown, but expect replacing it to be costly to pay for all the 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 now eight 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 or 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.
Two years after the E-car has landed I can confirm that this is by far the nicest vehicle to drive that I have ever owned; I will never go back to fossil fuel.
And finally an article on New Jersey's planned bill for E-car incentives, gleaned from the press by an American cousin.
There will be a NJ tax incentive up to $5000, in addition to a federal rebate, which is roughly the same amount based on the car's battery capacity; that gives a total of ten thousand dollars.
State sales tax will continued to be waived. Consumers would get $25/mile rebate of the eligible vehicle's electric-power range, up to a max of five thousand dollars for cars with a sticker price of $55,000 or less.
They mention the base price of all E-cars will be in the range $30,000 to 35,000.
A consumer report states a Chevy Bolt with a 200-mile range started around $37,000 in 2021. The one they tested got 250; it depends on how fast you drive.
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 bill too.
They want 827 new stations.
The new Nissan Leaf has a price-tag of $27,400 in the USA and was below 20,000 after tax rebates in 2021.
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 the Coronavirus.
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.
It only came about after we started saving for a solar farm; the capital expenditure is significant, but the return amply justifies the investment. For that matter a sinking-fund for your first E-car is also the way to go.
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