There could be roughly ten battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on sale in the South African market by 2020, estimates Audi South Africa (SA) head Trevor Hill.
There are currently two: The Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3.
Audi will launch its C-BEV sports utility vehicle in South Africa in 2019.
To date, the German premium car marker has declined to introduce a hybrid vehicle in the South Africa market, despite its global availability.
Hill says self-driving and electric vehicles will come to South Africa, as “South Africa was part of the world”.
“We have to prepare our country, our markets, our dealers and our government for this. We deserve not to be left behind.
“Things are moving really quickly in the automotive world in Europe.”
Audi has established an e-Tron team to deliver on its BEV strategy in South Africa.
Audi SA is currently rolling out high-power infrastructure across a number of its dealers to allow BEV customers to charge their vehicles at these locations.
Hill says it could be possible to sell 80 to 100 C-BEVs in South Africa in 2019/20.
The C-BEV could, potentially, have a range of 800 km.
Hill says Audi, and the Volkswagen group it belongs to, are engaging government on the legislation and incentives required to make larger-scale BEV sales a reality in South Africa.
“If South Africa is serious about reducing it dependency on oil, and not importing so much, government has to consider it.”
Hill adds, however, that the internal combustion engine will remain in South Africa “for many years to come”.
Hill says sales of new premium cars in South Africa are down 13% year-to-date compared with the same period last year.
The tide of decline is slowing, however, down from the 20% drop recorded four months earlier.
Hill says the cabinet reshuffle and credit downgrades hit sales hard in the local market.
Audi SA sales should decline by around “2% to 3%” this year, with the aim to grow by “5% to 6%” next year.
“There is a lot of latent buying potential in the market,” says Hill.
A boost in consumer confidence, another rate cut and a fresh inflow of foreign investment could boost the South African premium market to the healthy levels seen a few years ago, he notes.