Government seeks public comment on electric vehicles

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Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel on Tuesday released a draft green paper on the advancement of new energy vehicles in South Africa.

The term “new energy vehicles” covers electrified or hybrid vehicles that derive their energy from fossil fuels and batteries; electric vehicles using only batteries (EV); and fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen to store energy.

Patel said the project follows contributions from the seven major vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in South Africa and the National Association of Automotive and Related Component Manufacturers (Naacam), as well as concerns raised by the National Steelworkers Union of South Africa (Numsa).

The draft will be released next week for public comment, with the aim of finalizing the strategy in just 90 days to bring the policy proposals to cabinet for review by October.

READ ALSO | Chinese Nidec predicts a sharp drop in prices for electric vehicles.

“We need to do this urgently because the reality of climate change is such that countries are setting targets for how many fossil fuel vehicles they want on their roads and we want investors and OEM headquarters to see South Africa raise their hand very early. in the decision-making process as to the location of production in the future.

“You miss that bus, then others would have a consolidated presence in the electric vehicle market,” he said.

Patel added that it was also necessary “to intensify efforts to build complete electric vehicles in South Africa”, in order to maintain the capacity of the local industry to export to key markets, such as the European Union. (EU) and the UK, where the plan is to stop selling fossil fuel cars by 2035.

Patel said his department has mandated the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to work with the Department of Science and Innovation on achieving its roadmap and that he will appoint a group led by Dr Johann van Zyl, an experienced global automaker, to finalize a report on actions to be taken to realize the electrical opportunities for South Africa.

Focus on hydrogen

Patel said a nickel sulfite facility has also been established in the Northwest, using byproducts from the platinum group metal (PGM) mining process to create components for lithium-ion batteries. , used in electric vehicles.

But he stressed that South Africa was well positioned to become a key player in the green hydrogen energy economy, with the country’s reserves of platinum group metals being used as a catalyst in green fuel cells at hydrogen and vanadium used in battery storage technologies.

Patel said South Africa’s first fuel cell plant has started production at the Dube trading port in KwaZulu-Natal.

He noted the proposed project between Sasol and Toyota to explore the use of fuel cell technology along the N3 corridor between Durban and Johannesburg.

End of the Ice Age

The government’s sudden emergency is linked to predictions made in 2017 by the independent US thinktank, RethinkX, which predicted that tenfold cost reductions and exponential improvements in the range and power of electric vehicles would lead to transportation disruption. from 2021.

RethinkX has predicted that transport as a service (TaaS) provided by fleets will soon begin to replace vehicle ownership in the United States, so that by 2030, 95% of all US passenger kilometers traveled “will be serviced by on-demand, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles owned by fleets and more than 200 million cars will be removed from US roads ”.

The forecast for new vehicle sales in Europe is that new energy vehicles will account for 40% of sales by 2030 and that number will increase to 80% by 2040.

Three out of four South African-made vehicles are currently exported to the EU.

The Green Paper therefore examines ways to expand the support provided to vehicle and component manufacturers under the government’s Automobile Production and Development Plan (APDP), in order to start production of new energy vehicles.

• The Green Paper is available for public comment at http://www.thedtic.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/EV_Green_Paper.pdf.



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