Interest in electric cars surges in South Africa as petrol price rockets

Data from South African vehicle classifieds website AutoTrader shows that potential car buyers are increasingly interested in buying second-hand electric vehicles (EVs).

That is despite the country’s significant electricity challenges spurring fears about being unable to charge EVs during load-shedding.

South Africa has seen its most severe load-shedding ever in 2022 since Eskom first implemented rotational power cuts in 2008.

By July, 2022 had already surpassed 2021 as South Africa’s worst-ever year for load-shedding.

This year has also seen fuel prices in South Africa soar to their highest levels, driven by crude oil shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

According to the 2022 AutoTrader Mid-Year Industry Report, searches for EVs were up 134% year-on-year between January and June.

“Interest in new energy cars is also being fuelled locally, helped in good measure by the introduction of several new EVs domestically and the launch of the first locally-built hybrid electric car — the Toyota Corolla Cross,” said AutoTrader.

“Given the global move to EVs, local car manufacturing strategies have begun to shift.”

AutoTrader CEO George Mienie regards the significant investment into producing the first generation of hybrids in South Africa as an essential step towards future-proofing South Africa’s auto industry.

The most searched for and viewed EV on AutoTrader so far this year was the powerful Audi RS E-Tron GT, which launched in South Africa alongside several other Audi e-tron models in February 2022.

Other popular models included the BMW i3, Porsche Taycan, and other derivates of the Audi e-tron, as shown in the graph below.

Audi RS e-tron GT during its South African launch

The most-listed EV was the BMW i3, the company’s first commercial fully-electric offering. It is also South Africa’s best-selling electric car.

The small hatchback has been on the market since 2015.

This is longer than every other EV listed on AutoTrader besides the Nissan Leaf, which has not sold anywhere near as well as the i3.

However, those keen on the i3 will have to move quickly as BMW recently announced it would stop production of the car.

The table below summarises the details of the top 10 most listed EVs on AutoTrader for the first six months in 2022, including their average prices, mileage, and most common model year.

Most listed EVs on AutoTrader in H1 2022
Model Price Mileage  Year Model
1. BMW i3 R666,953 44,666km 2019
2. Porsche Taycan R3,111,364 5,379km 2021
3. Audi e-tron R2,336,793 3,868km 2022
4. Audi RS e-tron GT R3,421,394 3,424km 2022
5. Audi e-tron GT R2,634,425 6,379km 2022
6. Jaguar i-Pace R1,468,075 15,030km 2020
7. Mini Cooper Hatch SE R599,945 53,500km 2020
8. Nissan Leaf R385,000 22,771km 2015
9. BMW iX R1,870,000 4,561km 2022
10. Volvo XC40 R1,200,000 50km 2022
BMW i3

Overall, AutoTrader said there was also more interest in brands that had a manufacturing presence in the country.

“In 2022, the top three most enquired on brands were Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW,” said AutoTrader. “Together, they generated over 40.9% of all consumer enquiries.”

Another interesting insight was the 9% increase in average used car prices year-on-year — from R389,145 to R423,964 — which was influenced heavily by the chip shortage straining stock of new cars.

Other key findings included in the report were:

  • 22 online car searches occurred every second on AutoTrader in 2022.
  • Volkswagen was the most searched-for brand, bumping BMW into second.
  • The Toyota Hilux was the most searched for and enquired on model.
  • The Volkswagen Golf GTI continues to be the most searched-for variant.
  • BMW was again the most viewed car brand.
  • The Volkswagen Polo was the most viewed model.
  • Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 was the most viewed variant.
  • SUVs had the highest number of body-type searches out of 56 million queries.
  • The three most-listed second-hand cars were the VW Polo, Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.
  • 2% increase in used average car mileage YoY (75,830km to 77,147km); and the average year model is 2017 (2016 in previous period)

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