Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies, in collaboration with the Department Environmental Affairs (DEA), on Thursday launched the Electric Vehicle (EV) Industry Road Map initiative, which will, through the application of several strategic interventions, look to develop an EV industry in South Africa.
The initiative would seek to create an environment in which EVs could be operated on national roads, as well as support the local development and production of EVs and the components thereof.
Key interventions would include local demand stimulation for EVs, through the development of a variety of tax benefits to encourage South Africans to buy such vehicles.
Tax incentives could include a personal income tax rebate, the reduction of value-added taxes on the selling price of electric-powered vehicles, as well as reduced EV registration costs.
In addition, the programme would seek to increase consumer awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of driving EVs.
Government said it would also drive additional investment in local EV manufacturing operations through amendments to the existing Automotive Production and Development Programme, which currently provided original-equipment manufacturers that produce more than 50 000 units with a 20% return on projected investment in new plant and machinery.
“There are, however, some significant improvements in these incentives for EV manufacturers that produce over 5 000 EV [units], which will receive a 35% return on their investment,” Davies said at the programme launch.
Research and development support for EV manufacturers would also be provided by several parastatal and independent research organisations, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Industrial Development Corporation and Eskom.
The road map would further look to develop the legislative framework required for ensuring the safe manufacture and operation of EVs, as well as to increase the level of integrated planning required for the enabling infrastructure, such as charging stations.
“In June, we will open the road map for public comment, after which an EV industry steering committee, comprising industry and government, will be established. This committee will then evaluate the input from various stakeholders and, by September, submit implementation proposals to Cabinet,” Davies explained.
The launch of the EV road map followed an announcement by the DEA, in February, that it would, as part of a Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Pilot Programme, trial a fleet of electric vehicles to determine the viability of EVs under South African conditions.
Nissan South Africa – the primary private sector partner for the programme – would provide the DEA with four Nissan Leaf EVs for the initial phase of the project, which would run for three years.
The vehicles would be charged using department-based charging stations with dual-grid connections.
The DEA’s fundamental motivation for embarking on the programme was, what it called, an urgent need for South Africa to transition to a job-creating, sustainable, low-carbon and green economy, as outlined in the National Development Plan, and which was aligned with the objectives of the EV industry road map.