EV charging infrastructure
Image credit: uYilo Programme

South Africa's adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is projected to reach about 145,000 EVs in the next six years, however, there is a lack of EV charging infrastructure.

The uYilo Programme is one of the strategic initiatives within the Green Transport Strategy of the national Department of Transport that promotes introduction of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.

“The local battery electric vehicle market started with the introduction of the Nissan Leaf in 2013, and the BMW i3 in 2015. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles offerings include BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. This year more manufacturers will bring EVs to the SA market, the first being Jaguar Land Rover," says Hiten Parmar, director of uYilo eMobility Programme.

The supporting public EV charging infrastructure has progressed since early inceptions in 2013 with the majority of charge points installed having being supplied from international equipment manufacturers.

“As the local EV market grows, the demand from vehicle manufacturers for a variety of locally manufactured EV charging infrastructure and service providers will also increase. In preparations towards this there has been specific investment from the uYilo Kick Start fund into technology localisation projects, to ensure multiple local technology providers are available and that South Africa is not solely dependent on international suppliers and technologies,” Marmar revealed.

South African Automotive Masterplan

The South African Automotive Masterplan 2035 has set out several objectives, including having a localisation rate of 60%.

The Department of Trade and Industry has outlined plans to supporting the local automotive sector, as well as the benefits of having a deep and diverse supply chain for domestic sourcing.

uYilo Kick Start Fund investments on specific EV charging infrastructure technology projects includes the GridCars AC charge point and server in 2014, the MLT Inverters Karoo70 High Voltage inverter for second-life EV batteries in 2015, the Microcare 50kW DC EV Fast Charger in 2017 and in 2018 QBSoft - EV BackOffice management system.

The total allocation localisation funding extends across R13.2 million to which R7.7 million allocation has been from the uYilo grant funding, and R5.5 million co-funding from the specific project developers and related partners.

This funding model has attracted greater participation and commitments towards expanding the local electric vehicle ecosystem of technologies.

These grassroots investments seek to provide the foundation for the growth of the local electric vehicle supply chain for domestic sourcing. Read more: Zimbabwe’s first EV to hit the streets before year ends

"The uYilo smart grid facility additionally provides a live-testing environment for electric vehicle fleets and the related infrastructure ecosystem. At 128kW total EV charging capacity it is currently the largest dedicated EV charging, and technology advanced facility in Africa, with the inclusion of global technologies of the electric vehicle ecosystem," says Parmar.

He adds: "This includes solar EV charging, second life EV battery storage systems, BackOffice management, AC charge points, DC fast chargers and the leading Vehicle-to-Grid technology.”