South Africa is currently the testing ground for a new electric vehicle project, which will pilot and test the feasibility of electric cars and their support-infrastructure when exposed to the harsh and hot South African conditions.
South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced the project on Tuesday while in Pretoria, noting the benefits this technology could create for the region.
“The fundamental motivation for embarking on this project is the urgent need for South Africa to transition to a job creating, sustainable, low-carbon and green economy as clearly outlined in the National Development Plan,” said Molewa.
There are multiple stakeholders involved in the project and working as partners, including Nissan South Africa, the Environmental Affairs Department, and Eskom and the South African Revenue Services. The Departments of Trade and Industry, Transport, Energy, Science and Technology are also stakeholders in the large-scale operation.
“The government has already put in place policies to enable this transition that is pro-development, pro-poor and pro-job creation,” noted Malewa, explaining the massive interest garnered by the project. “The transition to a low-carbon and sustainable economy can create large numbers of green jobs across many sectors of the economy and indeed can become an engine of development.”
As one of South Africa’s most carbon-intensive industries, the automotive sector will change dramatically should this venture succeed. Representing more than 80 percent of Africa’s vehicle output, South Africa is the right place to start when moving toward greener auto-technology.
“This electric vehicle industry strategy prepares for the future transition into design and production of alternative propulsion systems in order to maintain or increase South Africa’s global market share in the automotive sector,” explained Malewa, “while still responding to its commitment to decrease its carbon footprint.”
The industry strategy consists of multiple components in addition to electric vehicle implementation, including a national climate change response policy, as well the Public Enterprise Department’s guidelines for enterprises owned by the state.
Nissan’s contribution to the project involves offering four Nissan Leaf test cars to the Environmental Affairs Department, for a period of three years.
Molewa praised the company for its contribution, calling the Leaf “the world’s first mass-produced electric vehicle, which will be launched later this year in South Africa by Nissan as the first car manufacturer to introduce a 100 percent electric vehicle into the country.”
The Leafs will be charged at new dual-grid connection charging stations, via solar tracking, which has just been installed in Pretoria.
“An e-transport location analysis will be conducted in partnership with other government agencies, to inform the roll-out of the solar e-cars installation package at key transportation and commuter hubs countrywide,” Molewa added. “It is envisaged that in the future these tracking devices will be installed on the major commuter routes for the direct charging of vehicles in real time.”
Edited by Brooke Neuman