Electric Vehicles: From the priciest to most affordable

The South African automotive market has been slow in adopting Electric Vehicles (EVs) after introducing its first electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, in 2013. Until recently, only a handful of electric vehicles were accessible, and usually at a very high price point. However, a new, more affordable EV has arrived in SA: The CityBug.

Buyers could only pick from the BMW i3, BMW iX, Mini Cooper SE, Jaguar I-Pace, Porsche Taycan, Taycan Cross Turismo, and the Volvo XC40 Recharge, with the least expensive Mini Cooper SE starting at a whopping R685,000.

But wait! Recently, we received the most affordable EV of the SA market – the Eleksa CityBug with a starting price of just R230,000 (more on this below).

Besides the limited number of available EVs here, range anxiety, an undersized charging infrastructure, load shedding and electricity supply issues, and increased taxes on electric vehicles put off most EV buyers. However, with the commitment to meet objectives set in the Paris Agreement, manufacturers, as well as different nations, cannot avoid electric mobility. It is a matter of when rather than why.

The EV market is set to expand

South Africa is ready to welcome 20 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2023. A few we are expecting this year include:

  • Three Audi e-Tron cars (e-Tron, e-Tron Sportback, e-Tron GT)
  • Two from BMW (iX3, i4)
  • Two at least from the German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz (EQA, EQE)

Moving to next year, we anticipate more offerings from Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and other automakers. While those electric vehicles would take time to emerge, we take a look at the options we already have in the market, from the priciest to the most affordable.

The 2022 Porsche Taycan offers an exciting acceleration, engaging handling, upscale interior, and a host of standard and optional facilities. With a wide range of powertrain options, you will never find it underpowered.

The downsides are its mediocre driving range compared to its rival EVs, over-dependence on touch-sensitive controls, and its exuberant price tag. For its current base price plus a little more, you can have a Model S and get twice the range, but unfortunately, that is not available in the local market.   

The base Taycan is available with a rear-wheel drive, standard 79-kWh battery, or a 93-kWh optional battery pack. The smaller battery delivers 322 km (200 miles), while the larger pack would allow you to cover 362 km (225 miles) between charges.Those looking to minimise their carbon footprints at a reasonable price can now buy the two-door four-seater CityBug EV, imported by Eleksa. The mini EV features a 9kWh battery and a 4kW electric motor, offering 100 km of range (upgradeable to 200km). The claimed charging cost is 15c per kilometre or around R15 for a full charge.

The standard facilities encompass Aircon, USB ports, reverse camera, electric windows, digital instrument cluster, Google maps navigation, and Android tablet infotainment system.

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