South African Hybrid and Electric vehicle offerings slightly up in 2018
Compared to a year ago, there are two more vehicles available to South African consumers that fall into the category of hybrid and electric vehicles. That brings the total to 20, up two from this time last year. You can see the full list here, but the changes are summarized below.
BMW have introduced their roadster i8 to the market along with the facelift variants of their existing i3 and i8. The first gens are still available, up about R5,000 in the last year, while the facelift i3s cost an additional R30,000 and the i8 coupe R80,000. Continuing to lead the way in electric and hybrid offerings BMW have also reintroduced the X5 xDrive40e and a 3-series electric in the form of the 330e, an F30 facelift.
Although the Bolt was never released to the South African market, the ceasing of Chevrolet sales in the country is a disappointment, as it indicates we will never see one of the most efficient all electric vehicles on our shores.
Inifiniti continue to offer the lone Q50 hybrid, while their website and online presence seems to have dwindled. Nissan obviously had high hopes for the brand initially, but don’t seem to be investing much in it anymore.
Lexus neither added nor removed items from their purchase list, continuing to offer four hybrid vehicles. All took a slight price knock, easily explained by inflation and recent VAT increase.
As Mercedes-Benz adds one plugin-hybrid to their name in the form of the GLE 500e; at the same time the S-class hybrids (one of the first introduced to the local market) are now oddly absent. This is surprising, as a new S-Class is still a few years out. It could however be a delayed break to introduce the facelifted S-Class.
As promised, Porsche have now brought their Panamera hybrids to the market, in the form of both their Panamera 4 and Panamera Turbo S models, in both Sport and Standard shapes. The Cayenne S is also still available in E-Hybrid variant, with a promise of the new Cayenne coming soon.
While ex-South African Elon Musk did promise that the Tesla Model 3 would be available in South Africa, local purchasers are still waiting. Pre-orders were initially taken in 2016, with early introduction estimates set at late 2018. The Model 3 website currently indicates the production of right-hand drive vehicles only starting in 2019.
Toyota have dropped their Yaris Hybrid from the lineup, most likely due to the new product introduction, but maintain their Auris hybrid as well as flagship Prius.
While many companies like Honda, Hyundai, Audi and VW sell electronic variants internationally, they have still been conservative in bringing these vehicles to South Africa. And can one really blame them? Earlier this year the Sunday Times reported that just 400 vehicles in South Africa were pure electric.
The formation of the South African Electric Vehicle Industry Association created a lot of optimism for government support of projects around the industry, but beyond desires to reduce import taxes and offer incentives to South Africans to purchase such vehicles, they don’t seem to have achieved anything solid yet. Their fancy looking website boasts a news page with only two articles, the last one posted a year ago; an events page which lists their annual conference; and a forum with zero posts, no apparent way to create threads, and an insecure login.
Some promising news is that NAAMSA recently mentioned government promises to reduce import duties by 7% on EVs, but no implementation date has been specified. In the grander scheme of things, this is not a major decrease, but is at least a starting point. And maybe an indicator of things to come.