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Should you get an electric car?

Should you get an electric car?

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Well, that's one way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Well, that's one way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Should you get an electric car?
One way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels is to switch from your petrol- or diesel-fueled vehicle to an electric one. And while there are a few electric vehicles (EV) to choose from, there are lots of factors to consider when it comes to making the change.

Getting started

There are currently three car brands with EV models on the market in South Africa – the BMW i3 and i8, the Nissan Leaf and the Jaguar Land Rover Jaguar I-Pace, Range Rover plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and Range Rover Sport PHEV. They range in price from R 479 100 (Nisan Leaf) to R2 095 200 (BMW i8) – not exactly entry-level costs. But if you’re able to manage those costs, it might be a worthwhile expense in the pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sustaining sustainability

Being a driver of a petrol- or diesel-fueled vehicle comes with a few stops at the fuel station every month and parting with increasing amounts of money to keep your tank full and car on the road. And they are relatively easy to find – often with more than one within a few hundred meters of each other. This is not the case for EV drivers, who have to find charging stations for their vehicles. While it is possible (but expensive) to install a charging station at your home, most EV drivers make use of public charging stations. These are usually available at the dealerships of the respective brands or can be found in the parking lots of airports (for BMW i drivers) or shopping malls, but might take a bit longer to track down or off your usual commute.

A full charge will cost a fraction of the cost of a full tank of petrol, where EVs with 90kWh batteries costing about R270 – R315, and taking up to 75 minutes, for a full charge.

Still coal powered

While EVs are free of the regular emissions we may be used to from the tailpipes of petrol- and diesel-fueled vehicles, they still rely on electricity. According to Carbon Brief (https://www.carbonbrief.org/the-carbon-brief-profile-south-africa), unless that electricity is sustainably or renewably sourced, EVs can contribute to the increase in carbon emissions. In South Africa, more than 80% of electricity is coal-generated, making it likely that the electricity being used to charge EVs is not sourced from renewable energy sources. Currently, with only about 1000 EVs on the road in South Africa, there is little impetus for large-scale infrastructure to support the rollout of EVs in the mainstream.

What to do if it’s not for you

If the start-up costs or maintenance convenience of an EV are too much to take on for you, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to your commute. If possible, try to walk or cycle to get around your city. Alternatively, if there is public transport you can rely on (and is safe), try using the train or bus instead of driving. However, especially in South Africa, the easiest, most reliable and convenient way to get around is usually with a private car – so the best you can do is try to keep your driving to a minimum and to try things like carpooling to work to reduce the number of cars on the roads.

One way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels is to switch from your petrol- or diesel-fueled vehicle to an electric one. And while there are a few electric vehicles (EV) to choose from, there are lots of factors to consider when it comes to making the change.

Getting started

There are currently three car brands with EV models on the market in South Africa – the BMW i3 and i8, the Nissan Leaf and the Jaguar Land Rover Jaguar I-Pace, Range Rover plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and Range Rover Sport PHEV. They range in price from R 479 100 (Nisan Leaf) to R2 095 200 (BMW i8) – not exactly entry-level costs. But if you’re able to manage those costs, it might be a worthwhile expense in the pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sustaining sustainability

Being a driver of a petrol- or diesel-fueled vehicle comes with a few stops at the fuel station every month and parting with increasing amounts of money to keep your tank full and car on the road. And they are relatively easy to find – often with more than one within a few hundred meters of each other. This is not the case for EV drivers, who have to find charging stations for their vehicles. While it is possible (but expensive) to install a charging station at your home, most EV drivers make use of public charging stations. These are usually available at the dealerships of the respective brands or can be found in the parking lots of airports (for BMW i drivers) or shopping malls, but might take a bit longer to track down or off your usual commute.

A full charge will cost a fraction of the cost of a full tank of petrol, where EVs with 90kWh batteries costing about R270 – R315, and taking up to 75 minutes, for a full charge.

Still coal powered

While EVs are free of the regular emissions we may be used to from the tailpipes of petrol- and diesel-fueled vehicles, they still rely on electricity. According to Carbon Brief (https://www.carbonbrief.org/the-carbon-brief-profile-south-africa), unless that electricity is sustainably or renewably sourced, EVs can contribute to the increase in carbon emissions. In South Africa, more than 80% of electricity is coal-generated, making it likely that the electricity being used to charge EVs is not sourced from renewable energy sources. Currently, with only about 1000 EVs on the road in South Africa, there is little impetus for large-scale infrastructure to support the rollout of EVs in the mainstream.

What to do if it’s not for you

If the start-up costs or maintenance convenience of an EV are too much to take on for you, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to your commute. If possible, try to walk or cycle to get around your city. Alternatively, if there is public transport you can rely on (and is safe), try using the train or bus instead of driving. However, especially in South Africa, the easiest, most reliable and convenient way to get around is usually with a private car – so the best you can do is try to keep your driving to a minimum and to try things like carpooling to work to reduce the number of cars on the roads.

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