Is South Africa ready for electric vehicles (EVs)? A study released in October reveals some fascinating insight into the future of these vehicles in the country.
AutoTrader – the biggest digital automotive marketplace in South Africa – and Generation.e – partnered to provide insights into consumer perception, expectation, purchase intent, awareness and trust of EVs.
The 2020 South Africa EV Car Buyer Survey will complement the recent report published by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).
The full findings of the survey were revealed at the Smarter Mobility Africa event on 28 October 2020 by George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.
According to Mienie, South Africa is still in the starting blocks when it comes to EV adoption – with only 2% of consumers owning an EV and 13% having driven one. “But EVs will gain in popularity. The survey shines a spotlight on the gap between consumer perception and industry assumptions to assist stakeholders such as dealers, manufacturers, marketers and government bodies to drive action-based discussions. The hope is that these insights lead to a tomorrow that is greener, cleaner and mutually beneficial to the automotive industry, and most importantly, the South African car buying consumer,” he explains.
So, exactly how do consumers feel about EVs? The 2020 South Africa EV Car Buyer Survey yields some interesting results.
For instance, there is still a certain level of anxiety surrounding EVs. “61% of respondents cited charging infrastructure as the biggest disadvantage of electric vehicles while 60% of respondents also believe charging time is a major disadvantage,” reveals Mienie.
Surprisingly, only 26% of respondents reported that “range anxiety” was a major disadvantage (previously this has been the most significant concern). However, respondents were quite insistent that they would only purchase an EV with a relatively high range. “A total of 39% of respondents said that an electric vehicle needs to have a range of 300 to 500km for them to consider purchasing one. On the other hand, 44% of respondents said that they required more than 500km of range,” says Mienie.
Yet another major concern of consumers in the past has been the relatively high purchase price of EVs – but this is now less of an issue. “In fact, 67% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay more for an EV upfront, given that running costs were lower than a petrol/diesel vehicle,” says Mienie.
Most significantly, the majority of respondents – a meaningful 68% – said that they were ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to consider purchasing an EV in the future. Only 7% of respondents stated that they were ‘unlikely’ to consider purchasing an EV in the future.
“We’re not talking about EV purchases in the distant future either. 74% of respondents stated that they would purchase an electric vehicle within the next five years,” Mienie reveals.
Those consumers are most likely to purchase a BMW, Tesla or Mercedes-Benz EV (even though Tesla isn’t currently available in South Africa). “Over half of the respondents – 56% to be exact – trust BMW the most, 42% of respondents selected Tesla as the brand they would trust most while 36% of respondents selected Mercedes-Benz,” says Mienie.