Unpacking the technical and perception barriers to electric vehicle uptake in South Africa
Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.
ENGLISH SUMMARY : The rapid population growth and urbanization on the African continent exert ever more pressure on existing infrastructure, especially energy and transportation infrastructure, which is predominantly fuel-based. This puts a high transport cost burden on citizens and the countries on the continent, due to ever-increasing fuel prices. South Africa urgently needs an alternative transportation system that can offset the fuel cost burden, and reduce carbon emissions through the effective use of its abundant renewable energy resources such as wind and solar. The main aim of this research is to unpack the technical and perception barriers withholding the mass uptake of electric vehicles in South Africa, assess the opportunities for the innovation and the global growth thereof. The researcher uses quantitative data to address the research objectives by using both primary and secondary research data sources. Using snowball technique and social media platforms, primary data is sourced from experts in the automobile industry, transport departments and the public. Secondary data such as vehicle sales data, and infrastructure development information is obtained from the websites of the various automobile agencies. The World Bank and various automaker associations such as the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), Nissan South Africa, and BMW South Africa assisted with the secondary data. The results show that the global transition to electromobility is happening rapidly in China, Europe and the United States, with South Africa far behind when compared to the rest of the world. The results further indicate that electric vehicle technology can offer more benefits such as lowering carbon emissions, stimulation of innovation, decreasing the country's dependence on fossil fuel and fostering economic development by lowering transport costs. However, these technological advantages of electric vehicles over internal combustion vehicles are associated with social challenges, infrastructure challenges, economic challenges and political challenges to both the early adopters and the country in general. The high purchase cost of electric vehicles results in their high total cost of ownership compared to internal combustion vehicles. On the other hand, electric vehicles have a lower running cost than conventional vehicles in South Africa. Nevertheless, the higher price premium cannot be offset only by lower running costs, but by a combination of lower running cost and incentives such as the provision of capital subsidies on electric vehicle retail prices, and lower import tariffs. It is further recommended that the country needs to intensify its policies, educate the public and create an enabling environment for mass uptake in order to catch up with global developments while attaining its sustainability targets.
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