MOTORING: A SNEAK PEEK
The electric vehicles coming to South Africa in 2022
As fully electric vehicle sales continue to climb around the world, SA remains on the backfoot. However, premium vehicle manufacturers are planning to launch a number of new models in the country in 2022, more than doubling the current selection of options available for those who can afford the premium prices.
On 13 December 2021, Time magazine announced billionaire Elon Musk, as its Person of The Year. The announcement was accompanied by a relatively long article covering many of the billionaire’s initiatives, which have changed our world in some ways and are set to fundamentally transform it in the future. Musk has no shortage of detractors, from those who believe the federal support for his SpaceX initiative would be money better spent improving terrestrial life, to those who argue that his satellite network, Starlink, could lead to unprecedented space pollution.
Whatever side of the argument one agrees with, it would be hard to ignore the potential impact of both these initiatives on the future of humanity. But it is Musk’s Tesla, the electric vehicle and energy company, that the Time article argues has already significantly changed the world of automotive for the better: “That has made Musk arguably the biggest private contributor to the fight against climate change. Had the 800,000 Teslas sold in the last year been gas-powered cars, they would have emitted more than 40 million metric tons of CO₂ over their lifetimes – equivalent to the annual emissions of Finland.”
Meanwhile, in South Africa, where Tesla has not yet indicated any plans to make its vehicles available, fully electric vehicles are still far from achieving significant market uptake. As recently reported by Engineering News, “The current frontrunner in the South African [fully electric vehicle] market is BMW, with 455 i3s having been sold up to the end of June this year.”
Currently, South Africans have a very limited selection of fully electric cars to choose from – six, to be specific: the BMW i3, BMW iX, Mini Cooper SE, Jaguar I-Pace, Porsche Taycan, and Taycan Cross Turismo, as well as the Volvo XC40 Recharge.
Besides the scarcity of models, there are also numerous reasons why the country has been slow on the uptake. These include: range anxiety, an underdeveloped charging infrastructure, concerns about load shedding and electricity supply, and the taxes imposed on electric vehicles, which puts them out of reach for the majority of drivers. Then there’s the fact that the models that are currently available fit into the premium sector of the market, the cheapest being the Mini Cooper SE at a starting price of R685,000.
However, considering the goals set in the Paris Agreement, as well as numerous commitments made by car manufacturers to comply with those goals by significantly reducing or altogether halting the production of internal combustion engine cars in the next 10 to 15 years, there seems to be no avoiding a future of electric mobility, which, based on climate change predictions, seems to be the only viable future for humanity.
In preparation, some manufacturers are already making plans to bring more fully electric models to their South African line-up. Next year, 2022, promises to more than double the options available for drivers who wish to buy a fully electric vehicle, albeit at a premium price point. Below are the models that have already been announced for the South African market in 2022.
Audi makes an electric statement
Audi plans to release not one but three e-tron models, across a total of six derivatives, in the first quarter of 2022.
The Audi e-tron 55 SUV is the most affordable of the range, starting at R1,990,000, with its S-line derivative at R2,045,000. Both vehicles promise a range of 369km to 440km.
The Audi e-tron 55 Sportback S-line, described by Audi as combining “the power of a spacious SUV with the elegance of a four-door coupé,” starts at R2,115,000, with a range of 372km to 453 km, while the sportier and more powerful S Sportback derivative starts at R2,425,000, with a range of 347km to 378km
The Audi e-tron GT drives in at the sporty high-end, with a starting price of R2,715,000, and a range of 452km to 488km.
The Audi RS e-tron GT, targeted at performance enthusiasts, is the most powerful and expensive – and arguably most beautiful – of the lot, starting at R3,300,000, with a range of 433km to 472km.
More electric Beemers
BMW plans to expand its electric offering in South Africa in the second quarter of 2022, with the addition of two new models.
The BMW iX3 is based on the popular X3 SUV. Starting at R1,650,000, the manufacturer promises a range of up to 425km for its xDrive40 derivative, and up to 630km for the xDrive50.
The BMW i4 M50, a sedan, promises a range of up to 510km. At the time of publishing, there was no price listed as yet.
According to its website, as of April 2022, Mercedes-Benz will make two fully electric sedans and two fully electric SUVs available on the SA market. The manufacturer is yet to publish the local prices for the models, as well as the model specifications for the local market.
The number of options is expected to increase even more significantly in 2023. Sascha Sauer, MD of Audi SA promised that a new model would be added every year. Mercedes-Benz has also promised additional models to those announced. Volkswagen has been conducting test fleets of six fully electric vehicles in South Africa since 2020, and expects to have a range of electric vehicles available on the local market by 2023. DM/ML