Electric cars – Are they viable?

Electric cars – Are they viable?

Last updated on 30th January, 2019 at 03:58 pm

Why buy an electric car?

Besides offering lower running and operating costs, they are kind to the environment because of their lower CO2 emissions and innovative technology. Also, they’re no longer slow and cumbersome; in fact, there are certain models that will beat most supercars.

Who offers electric models?

Manufacturers at the forefront of offering electric-only models in South Africa include Nissan, with the Nissan Leaf, and BMW, with its i3 and i8 models.

Where can I charge my car?

Finding somewhere to charge your car can be problematic, although the manufacturers have set up charging stations for their customers. Charging spots in South Africa can be found across the network of 38 BMW i3 dealers and, together with Nissan South Africa, they’ve also rolled out AC chargers at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront and Constantia Village, plus three AC fast chargers in the Melrose Arch Precinct in Johannesburg. Plans are underway to expand to more sites in Gauteng and KZN.

 Are they cheaper to buy?

Not at present, as electric vehicles attract the highest import duties (25%). However, the BMW Group South Africa is negotiating for a 0% duty on the import of electric vehicles.

Are they cheaper to maintain?

Consider oil changes and ‘tune-ups’ a thing of the past because electric cars don’t have an internal combustion engine or transmission. There are fewer moving parts, making it cheaper to fix and maintain. According to BMW, the long-term service maintenance costs for the i3 are also lower than that of an internal combustion engine, and BMW offers an eight-year factory warranty on the battery. Nissan said its EV comes standard with a service plan, and general maintenance is very low compared to a normal vehicle. You still have coolant, brake fluid and brake pads to maintain and need to do an annual battery health check.

How long do they take to charge?

Charging an electric vehicle needs some planning as the time it takes varies.

What are the alternatives?

If you don’t want to go 100% electric but still want to help the environment, you can buy a hybrid car. Hybrids use more than one form of onboard energy to get the car going, but this technique is still cleaner than petrol or diesel engines, and will reduce emissions.

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Sources: The Union of Concerned Scientists, Nissan, BMW; stats correct at time of publishing

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