South African EV range test shows how far Ora, EQA, iX1 and XC40 can go on a charge

These four EVs were put to the test at Gerotek. Picture: AutoTrader.

These four EVs were put to the test at Gerotek. Picture: AutoTrader.

Published Jan 31, 2024


For those seeking to buy an electric vehicle (EV) the biggest elephant in the room almost goes without saying. Well, besides load shedding of course..

Range anxiety is real and there is a lot to get your head around, like the WLTP European certification figures which are not renowned for being completely accurate because they’re derived from lab testing.

Another possible point of confusion is long-distance driving range.

Because EVs don’t benefit from much regenerative braking on the highway, the driving range is somewhat shorter than it is in the city. It’s the complete opposite of an internal combustion engine, which is more efficient on the open road..

In order to gauge the real-world capability of some of South Africa’s most popular EV models, AutoTrader recently staged a range test on Gerotek’s High-Speed Oval Track near Pretoria.

In previous years the publication tested the cars from 100% battery right down to zero, but this year they decided to test the range from 90% to 10% in order to simulate real-world conditions.

That and the fact that running an EV below 10% can harm your battery life.

The #ElectricCarChallenge, as it’s dubbed, took place on a hot day, with temperatures hovering around 32°C and the testers aimed to maintain an average speed of around 120km, with the climate control system set to 21°C.

So, with a roll of drums… these were the results:

  • Mercedes EQA 250 - 254.7km (averaging 117.35km/h)
  • BMW iX1 - 238.7km (117km/h)
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge - 214.5km (116.25km/h)
  • GWM Ora 400 GT - 199.9km (105.25km/h)

Of course, these numbers do fall somewhat below the manufacturer claimed range figures of 400km for the GWM, 402km for the Mercedes, 440km for the BMW and 460km for the Volvo. But keep in mind that these figures represent a mixture of driving conditions, and highway driving will always result in a shorter range.

More affordable EVs landing in SA

The GWM Ora was recently launched in South Africa as the country’s cheapest EV, with a starting price of R686 950.

It will soon be joined by the BYD Atto 3 (from R768,000) and the Volvo EX30 (from R775,900). The Mini Countryman SE is also set for launch in Mzansi.

However, until the government announces incentives of some kind, or just a more fair taxation structure, EVs will not be able to price themselves into the mainstream end of the market.

ALSO READ: SA’s Electric Vehicle White Paper released, and they don’t want you to buy one just yet

“The tests are based on South African conditions rather than the cooler European testing scenarios,” said AutoTrader CEO George Mienie.

“In addition to setting a benchmark for EV variants, the aim is to produce a historical reference point upon which to look back and evaluate battery performance advancements year-on-year, as battery technology continues to evolve at pace,” Mienie added.

As a wildcard the team also economy tested the Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 XS Hybrid, simulating a typical South African daily commute. Under these conditions it returned consumption of 6.7 litres per 100km in the highway section of the test, for a range off 537km. The city driving segment saw somewhat improved consumption of 4.6 l/100km for a range of 782km.

IOL Motoring