Industry experts and entrepreneurs discuss challenges and opportunities in the e-mobility sectorSubmitted by Yethu Dlamini
The E-Mobility Congress South Africa in partnership with AutoTrader, GridCars and Katiah Automotive hosted a two-day annual conference which brings together industry leaders, experts and specialists to discuss and share valuable information about industry innovations and initiatives.
The congress aims to start the conversation about job creation within the sector, skills development, and entrepreneurial initiatives that set out the path for electric vehicles’ future in the country.
In the two days, from 01 to 02 March, engaging discussions took place on topics ranging from transition of fleets from fossil to solar energy, adding electric vehicles on South Africa’s electricity grid, developing adequate charging infrastructure, creating job opportunities in the e-mobility industry, local manufacturing of electric vehicles and South Africa’s policy responses to eco-mobility.
The discussions unpacked the challenges and opportunities of electric vehicles in the country and continent at large.
Speaking in the conference, Josh Dippenaar, energy advisor for sustainable energy Africa said electric vehicles are not an issue but lack of collaboration in managing them.
“We need collaborative measures to allow motorists to charge their vehicles without impacting on the grid,” said Dippenaar. When an electric vehicle is charging on a constraint network it can overwhelm the network and damage the infrastructure. Municipalities and industries need to work together in developing a smart charging plan, this includes monitoring the grid integrity risk and development of adequate infrastructure. Motorists will need to incentivise at work or public areas to reduce the load on constraint networks.”
GridCars director, Winstone Jordaan echoed Dippenaar and said, “charging environment is technology re-evolution. We need to make these changes to start creating a cleaner and efficient future for everyone.”
Meanwhile, other speakers touched on the urgent need for local manufacturing of electric vehicles to meet the European emission standards. South Africa currently exports more than 60% vehicles to Europe, however by 2030 this market would no longer allow importation of internal combustion engine vehicles.
“While South Africa has enjoyed strong growth in the automotive industry largely due to export, we risk losing a significant portion of this if we don’t move quickly to local manufacturing,” said AutoTrader chief executive officer, George Mienie.
In his presentation, Golden Arrow bus services company engineer, Gideon Neethling focused on the challenges in the large-scale introduction of electric buses in the country. Neethling said local manufacturing of electric buses has the potential to drive development and create job opportunities, however there’s a lack of support from government.
“The tax rate for importing an electric vehicle is higher compared to importing an internal combustion engine vehicle. Local manufacturing is required to eliminate or reduce import taxes,” said Neethling. The government need to address tax discrepancies with internal combustion engine vehicles, introduce incentives for electric vehicle purchases and manufacturing and also support alternative electricity generation.”
Golden Arrow has recently launched two fully electric buses in its bid to reduce carbon emissions and use renewable sources of energy.
The public transport operator is currently looking for local manufacturers to produce roughly 60 electric buses.
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