Department offers incentives for electric car producers

Vehicle manufacturers will receive incentives to manufacture electric vehicles in South Africa. (BMW)

Vehicle manufacturers will receive incentives to manufacture electric vehicles in South Africa. (BMW)

He added that his department was also considering incentives for consumers.

However, the government has travelled a difficult road when it comes to electric vehicles, after the Joule – an electric vehicle designed by South Africa’s Optimal Energy and part-funded by the government – failed to attract investors to commercialise it.

This incentive is the latest step that government has taken to encourage original equipment manufacturers to produce their electric vehicles in the country. The Nissan Leaf electric vehicle has already arrived in South Africa, and the BMW i3 is expected soon.

Davies was speaking at the announcement of the electronic vehicle industry road map on Thursday. In terms of the road map, producers of electric cars would have to make 5 000 such vehicles before they qualified for an incentive. The government would reimburse the manufacturer with 35% of the production cost over three years.

He said the road map was meant to encourage development of infrastructure for the local production of electric cars.

The objective of the roadmap was to form an electric vehicle industry steering committee by July to review public input and manage the incentives, Davies said, noting that the department planned to submit the final programme to Cabinet by September.

E-mobility project
However, there are other programmes to encourage infrastructure development.
Last month, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) – which the department of science and technology established in 2008 to bridge the gap between invention and marketable product – launched the e-mobility project.

The TIA general manager for energy said last month that the R7-million e-mobility project aimed to “[activate] the ecosystem [supply chain industry]” for electric vehicles, denying that it was an attempt to revitalise the Joule.

The technologies would include charging infrastructure, advanced energy storage technologies and testing facilities, the TIA said at the time.

Davies said the government was looking at consumer incentives, but that production was taking preference at the moment. “These are the very early stages for the cars in manufacturing. There are zero of these cars being produced in the country, that is why we need to get the programmes going.”

He said that the reason the government was focusing on electric vehicles was because they were “greener” and “South Africa must not be left behind in greening initiatives and technology”. – Additional reporting by Sapa

Sarah Wild

Sarah Wild

Sarah Wild is a multiaward-winning science journalist. She studied physics, electronics and English literature at Rhodes University in an effort to make herself unemployable. It didn't work and she now writes about particle physics, cosmology and everything in between.In 2012, she published her first full-length non-fiction book Searching African Skies: The Square Kilometre Array and South Africa's Quest to Hear the Songs of the Stars, and in 2013 she was named the best science journalist in Africa by Siemens in their 2013 Pan-African Profiles Awards. Read more from Sarah Wild

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