Will electric cars become popular in Africa?

BMW i8

By MHH International-A prestige car importer

Parts of the world are transitioning very quickly to electric cars and away from diesel engines in particular. But will electric cars ever become popular in Africa?

If you are wanting to own the latest hybrid models that are being launched such as the Range Rover Hybrid, the Cayenne Hybrid or the Audi E-Tron then you will want to know you will have the local support to help you should a fault develop.

Naturally, the biggest concern that people currently have is that the diagnostic machines in the service centres are not sufficient to support electric and hybrid cars. You can be reassured that every manufacturer who operates a dealer network across a country is now rolling out the diagnostics technology to those dealerships. They may not have the specific software for every model variant available on the planet yet, but the diagnostic equipment is arriving and the software can be bought and downloaded. Much quicker and simpler than sourcing parts.

The Lexus 450h has been driven in Africa for some years. The Lexus is recharging the battery through the braking system and additional motion. The progression to a plug-in hybrid is a small step particularly for city dwellers who mostly drive 20 miles or less. The need to buy petrol is dramatically reduced and this can mean that the majority of a week can be driven on electricity alone. This cost saving is the biggest motivation for many to make the switch. The engines are also becoming smaller but with just as good performance, and in some cases improved performance. The Range Rover was typically a 3.0L engine whereas the hybrid engine is now supported with a 2L petrol engine and an improved power output.

Making electric cars work in Africa comes with unique challenges. The increased risk of power surges for example, but these can be protected by wiring in a power surge protector. The whole continent could not be supported with enough electricity were everyone to switch in the next couple of years. But like any big changes, they come in waves and not one big tidal wave. A continual progression is needed to drive any change. The introduction of mobile phones enabled many Africans to have access to a ‘computer’ and the transition was much faster than previous continents. The transition to electric cars could also be an accelerated transition. The reduction in the daily cost of motoring makes it more accessible too. In time, the introduction of hybrid and electric cars will filter into the broader car owning population.

The early adopters will want to buy the new technology that is now available. That is what excites them about life and it allows the more careful amongst us to observe and wait for the reassurance. This will drive the dealers to have the software required readily available. If we’re moving to a world where cars can be fixed via software updates, then we’re moving to a more standardised solution. A better service provision for everyone, which naturally will be adopted more broadly once people are convinced that the vehicles can be supported and maintained. Lower costs of motoring, reduced environmental impact and better servicing from the dealerships, it all adds up to a newer better solution for us all to enjoy. We’re looking forward to it!