Cape Town - While rising petrol prices may threaten the future of the traditional holiday season road trip, experts believe it may well boost the current sluggish sales of electric vehicles (EVs).
With international oil price currently at more than $80 a barrel and rising, the spiralling cost of fuel may be one of the factors set to tip the scales in favour of EVs.
Economist Dawie Roodt said: “Some analysts are predicting that the oil price will reach $100 soon, but gas and coal prices are also through the roof; electricity prices are going up internationally, and all energy prices are going up quite steeply.”
Roodt said that since 2011, the cost of petrol has increased by about 85%, and diesel by about 69%, which in rand terms means an average 50-litre petrol tank now costs R916.50 to fill versus R495.95 ten years ago.
Following a recent GreenCape market intelligence report, which found price security concerns are making EVs an attractive alternative to petrol-powered vehicles for commuters, the City of Cape Town is conducting a pilot project and adopting EVs into its fleet to learn more about the technology and how it can be rolled out in the future.
Mayco member for energy and climate change Phindile Maxiti said: “The City believes one way to increase the uptake of the technology, which would mean it eventually becomes cheaper and more accessible for all, is to encourage companies and government to convert their fleets into EVs.
“Five EVs have been procured by the City’s Safety and Security Directorate, for use in the performance of its duties to keep residents safe. These vehicles compare well to non-electric similar vehicles used for law enforcement."
He said the directorate was chosen for the pilot study due to its usage patterns and high performance requirements, as analysis showed that over their lifetime, EVs would be cheaper than the existing petrol car options.
Maxiti said the City has two public EV charging stations – one in Bellville and the other in Somerset-West.
In July this year, Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell officially launched the first active electric bus service in South Africa, operated by Golden Arrow Bus Services.
The two electric buses have been incorporated into Golden Arrow’ day-to-day operations, carrying passengers between Retreat and Cape Town.
Meanwhile, fuel and fleet management systems company Payment24 said the logistics of running EVs will mean that people will plan their trips around where they can charge their vehicles.
Joint chief executive Shadab Rahil said: “EV prices are dropping and more vehicle manufacturers are entering the EV market, bringing more choice to South Africans.
“More EVs on the road will drive the installation of more charging stations outside of the major metros, making longer trips in EVs more feasible, and changing the face of the traditional South African road trip”