Business Maverick


Sales of electric vehicles surge in South Africa

Sales of electric vehicles surge in South Africa

Customers in South Africa bought 83% more new electric vehicles in the first quarter of this year than in the same period a year ago, which has helped buoy the otherwise lacklustre demand for new cars.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales might be slowing down internationally, but in South Africa we’re just getting started.  

The latest sales figures from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) reveal that customers bought 3,042 new energy vehicles (NEVs) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, which is up by 82.7% from the 1,665 units sold in the same period last year. 

NEVs include electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) do not have an internal combustion engine (ICE), whereas plug-in hybrids have both a rechargeable battery and electric motor and an ICE that runs on petrol. Hybrid vehicle batteries are smaller than those of EVs and have a much shorter range than battery-powered electric vehicles, and the car switches over to petrol once the battery runs out or if the driver changes the settings. 

The International Energy Agency expects EV sales to reach around 17 million this year, accounting for more than one in five cars sold worldwide. The agency says EVs will become a mass-market product in many countries. 

There are concerns about the industry’s pace of growth, which is being hampered by tight margins, volatile battery metal prices, high inflation, and the phase-out of purchase incentives in some countries, but global sales data show that in the first quarter of 2024, EV sales were about 25% higher than in the first quarter of 2023 (similar to the year-on-year growth seen in the same period in 2022). 

This year, the electric vehicle market is expected to expand by about 45% in China, 25% in Europe and 11% in the US, due to hotting up competition among manufacturers, battery and car prices dropping, and ongoing policy support.

Goldman Sachs Research attributes three main factors to the blunting of EV penetration: 

  1. Rising concerns about EV capital costs due to lower prices being realised for used EVs, as already seen in the UK, where the prices of used EVs have fallen sharply in recent months;
  2. Uncertainty about a number of elections this year (more than 50 countries are going to the polls in 2024) has taken the spotlight off potential changes to government policies affecting the EV industry; and
  3. A shortage of rapid-charging stations. Despite the acceleration of EV penetration, rapid-charging station infrastructure issues have emerged as a big problem, with several car manufacturers saying that concerns about driving range and charging infrastructure are increasing.

Sales of hybrid electric vehicles have been climbing amid the slowdown in EVs. This is because hybrids have a significant advantage in payback period compared to EVs and because there is more confidence in used car prices for hybrids, which were introduced in 1997.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Two in three cars sold globally could be electric by 2035, says International Energy Agency

Read more in Daily Maverick: The search for South Africa’s lost electric car

In South Africa, total new vehicle sales in Q1 2024 were down by 5.6%, domestic vehicle production was down by 2.2% and vehicle exports were down by 3.7%. This is in stark contrast with last year’s performance, which saw South Africa export a record number of vehicles (399,594). 

Naamsa says the sales decline in the new vehicle market, commencing in August 2023, has been worsened by the ongoing port issues and supply chain disruptions, while the ongoing global semiconductor shortage has affected the original equipment manufacturers differently. 

The state of the economy is, of course, a big factor in buying decisions, as affordability plays a considerable role when making a major purchase. DM


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  • michael james says:

    Your article is to optermistic/ You failed to present the reality, might be wise to look at the challengers including price. infrastructure, power limitations and unsuitability of EVs to SA
    Can’t see a big change in my lifetime//

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Just over 3000 in a year! Wow!
    None of my family or friends anywhere around the world will touch a EV of any sort….cost, weight, infrastructure, insurance etc

  • Mike Schroeder says:

    To speak of a “surge” when the numbers move from 1,600 to 3,000 or so is grossly over-inflating the message!
    And you fail to mention how large a part of total sales this is … less than 1% probably!

  • Random Comment says:

    How many of the vehicles sold were LDV / delivery vehicles for retailers trying to shore up their “green” credentials?
    In addition, EV sales in the USA have stalled (Q1 2024) and their share of the total market has declined. Tesla reported lower global deliveries in Q1 2024 – down 13.3% y-o-y (source: cox automotive report).

    This article is, as others have pointed out, basically meaningless.

  • Kid Charlemagne says:

    Electric cars are the future, there’s no question about that. Some countries will be slower to adopt and adapt than others. Many manufacturers and consumers are proceeding cautiously and foolishly by fiddling with hybrids which will turn out to be a waste of time. Look at the progressive, efficient and highly successful European countries, (Norway, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden etc) moving towards EVs at high speed. They know what they’re doing.

  • Go to hell satan says:

    Rsa government is still using 1978 economic policies lets change this government .

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