Jaguar Land Rover South Africa (JLR SA) will launch the full electric I-Pace sports utility vehicle in the local market towards the end of 2018 or at the start of 2019, says JLR SA and sub-Saharan Africa MD Richard Gouverneur.
“We are now entering the journey toward electric vehicles (EVs). We’ll learn a lot over the next 12 months.”
The I-Pace will have a range of 500 km.
Preparation for the battery-electric I-Pace includes mulling potential partnerships with other vehicle manufacturers that have EVs in the local market, as well as supporting their lobby for government to incentivise the sale of such vehicles in South Africa.
JLR SA is also engaging its 34 dealerships in rolling out the infrastructure necessary to support the charging and servicing of EVs in South Africa.
“We are also looking at the lifestyle areas our consumers frequent. It is important to make EVs more accessible.”
JLR SA is currently in the midst of a R1.1-billion investment strategy in its dealerships, says Gouverneur, with 55% of its facilities taking on a new identity, and the rest to do so by the end of 2018.
Three years, ago none of the Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – had incentives in place for EVs, says JLR overseas regional director Dmitry Kolchanov. Now, however, almost every Brics country has moved to provide some sort of stimulus for the introduction of EVs.
“This global trend is irreversible. The change is happening faster than we think.”
JLR CEO Dr Ralf Speth adds that all new vehicles to be built by JLR from 2020 onwards will either be a hybrid, an EV or a vehicle driven by an internal combustion engine.
“The world will go electric – there is no other technology at the moment.”
He warns, however, that it will take time to build the charging infrastructure required for EVs, even though the vehicles themselves are already available for use.
Customer acceptance will also play a role, making it difficult to predict where uptake will be – “20%, 30% or 40%” of the market.
“Different countries will move at a different pace. We’ll still have internal combustion engines for a long time.”
Kolchanov adds that EVs with a 500 km range ensure that public charging infrastructure plays a less important role in the global debate around electrification.
Speth notes that the average commuter in the UK travels 50 km a day.
Also, fast charges will soon be available to EV drivers, with an eight-minute charge providing a 100 km range.
However, new challenges relating to infrastructure may be to ensure that EVs do not arrive at charging stations with no spots available for charging.
This would require a new approach to data and data sharing.
The challenge is also for all brands to share charging points in terms of the technology they use.
UK Ban on Diesel and Petrol Vehicles
In an effort to clean up ever-increasing pollution, the UK in July announced a proposal that sales of new diesel and petrol cars would come to an end by 2040. This announcement mirrors one made earlier by France, with a similar timeline and intent.
Will it be possible to achieve this goal?
Speth says 2040 may seem far away, but the seven years it takes to develop a vehicle and then amortise such a “huge investment” means that it is, “in principle, just around the corner”.
He adds that the ban would also mean that all light commercial vehicles and trucks and all public transport would have to comply.
There are also questions around energy availability
Speth further notes that it is important to ensure that people in the UK are still able to commute, with mobility viewed as “a basic right”.
He says all these questions need to be answered not only by car manufacturers but also by government and the energy sector.
“We’ll have to see. Maybe it takes longer – 2040 looks a little early to expect everything to change.”Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor