Why driving an electric vehicle makes sense in this economic climate

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Each month sees an increase in the variety of EV models coming to market and lower cost vehicles are starting to appear, however, South African motorists, in particular, are deprived of more affordable choices.

When the facts are considered in that the actual costs of battery packs have declined by 70% over the past five years, it does lend a bit of credibility to the notion that producing an EV will be on par or even cheaper than an ICE vehicle in the next two years. This tipping point, together with the economies of scale offered to manufacturers, should ensure not only that EVs will be adopted at an accelerated rate, but it will also spell the end of the ICE market. Those who remain loyal to ICE vehicles will face legislative hurdles and the real threat of not being able to use these vehicles on roads, depending on the speed by which laws come into play.

The cost

In China, the cost of acquiring a license plate for your ICE vehicle can be as high as US$14,000, while a number plate for an EV can cost nothing. These types of incentive and penalty-driven adoption models are active in most developed countries. There are cases where incentives on EVs actually bring their price on par with ICE vehicles, offering the user a lower total cost of ownership from day one.

A US$ price comparison between two common Toyota ICE models and some of the available EVs for sale in similar size segments in the US today shows that at the bottom end there are no like-for-like price competitors. However, from $ 30,000 things start to change.

Toyota Corolla ICE starts from $18,500 and goes up to $30,000, while the Toyota Camry ICE model range starts from between $24,000 and 35,000. Most South African motorists will have an idea where these two models fit in the scheme of things.

Some battery electric vehicle (BEV) optionsGM Bolt EV $37,000 60kWh with 380km range, Nissan Leaf EV $30,000 40kWh with 240km range, Hyundai Kona $40,000 64kWh with 415km range, BMW i3 $44,000 33kWh with 180km range & Tesla Model 3 $46,000 62kWh with 415km range.

The initial price is not the total story of owning an EV — there is the issue of charging and the operational savings for EVs are substantial when compared to ICE vehicles.

The Hyundai Kona EV versus a 12km per litre ICE vehicle. The Hyundai Kona EV comes with a 64kWh battery pack does 8.2km/kWh @ N$2.41/kWh = 0.29 N$/km (Calculated at the average price for electricity in Namibia). The 12km/L ICE vehicle comes in at = N$1.13/km. (Using the low N$13.00/L from Namibian petrol pumps.)

Driving an EV will save you 70% on your “fuel” costs and best of all you fill up at night where you recharge your cell phone for added convenience. 

The daily chore of driving that many people go through every day is being disrupted in many ways and it is difficult to understand how consumers will not opt for a technology that is more affordable and safer to operate and own. Mobility as a Service is around the corner so consumers may even opt to stop buying cars altogether. One thing is certain, the transport industry will change and this change will happen quickly regardless of government policy or the price of oil.

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