Considering a Model S in SA: Without the Vrrr Pah!

This is a simple thought aloud on going electric in SA

A car that should cover 350km for R 120, where electricity tariffs are R2/kWh would need to consume. 2.8L/100km at R12.33 for 95 Unleaded. These are conservative energy prices in SA I know, but bear with me.

The average household size in SA is just under 4 persons per household, Johannesburg is about 3.6 persons per household — this is decreasing slowly. Many families travel across the country to visit family that are least 300km away on average. Unlike the populations of petrol stations, charging stations for an electric car should be at least 150–200km apart initially (assuming that families can charge from home, and drive within the speed limits). In this sense the base Model S, a premium family sedan can be a practical option in SA. The starting price is R955 448, excluding the potential incentives, carbon tax rebates and import related costs. For the similar price, a petrol head would grip on a Jeep SRT8, or any base model of a performance guzzler that shakes windows near crack (vrrrrr pha!).

Some cars do that other than the small Nissan Leaf with limited range (190km) or the BMW i range neither are really practical for an average sized family of four really. The. Volvo XC90T8 offers a 2.1L/100km set up priced at R993 100. The rest of the options, are hatchbacks offering 3.1L to 3.8L set ups is priced under R 300 000 (other than the Porsche S hybrids, real contenders here).

So, the costs for the 350km trip would be just about R 133 and R 160. What we know about motors is that these figures depend on driving behavior and I suspect that electric motors are less susceptible to the volatile behavior.

From a purchase price perspective, the value retained and the average 18% increase in car prices in SA, with the advent of more robust carbon tax doesn’t make the lower purchase price all that compelling.

At first glance it’s 3 times cheaper to buy a smaller combusting car for your family with limited quality, than to go all electric with full quality level of service. But from a service, safety and long term cost reductions perspective I’d like to argue that on a year to year basis families would save five fold or more with the electric option — like a Model S. Especially given the future of energy harvesting, and increasing demand for affordable clean energy — there’s a strong possibility that the tariff may be zero for households who invest in solar energy sources. And if a charging station is available — from Tesla, then families are guaranteed infinite savings. The Porsche stand really parallel here, but the fuel costs and the potential loss of rebate and other benefits make it really challenging. I like the Volvo because it’s an encouraging giant — more space, survivor of the potholes and potentially good range. From an emissions perspective, as long as there’s petrol, it’s not exciting — but off the grid, no coal burnt from Eskom, the Model S (base) just sounds better.

I’d like to pile that with accessible good quality public transport and incentives for employees to use it, households may practically be traveling for free in the long run. The electric transition needs to be supplemented with various other travel management measures — which are well on the way in SA. But I’ll mention that low carbon high quality and equitable public transport is a powerful complement. Great side walks, bike lanes and activities along the way really make up a compelling quality of life. Reinforced with ride-hail services, buying a car might actually become an awkward conversation if I’d be too optimistic.

The electric option sounds great when economics, topography, climate, tariff variations and infrastructure are not accounted for. From what I’ve seen, the quality of the offering is extraordinary. But the industrial or supply chain emissions still seem unavoidable — although much lower at Tesla. The Department of Trade and Industry also has significant incentives for the manufacturing of these green vehicles locally — for employment and cost reduction purposes. The idea is to offer a platform for market penetration since start up costs might be too high when capital is limited.

The missing conversation is is the enthusiasm behind the sound of a breathing engine, heaving and snapping when well tuned . This is not just about accelerating (vrrrr pha), since we know Tesla beats the price and acceleration ratio of any and most high end performance cars. My only challenge is getting to charge the vehicle when I get to Tshwane, assuming that there’s no high quality and safe Rapid long distance train. Overall, it’s possible. And with a lower price end model, especially at the R 500 000, with charging stations around — people might get interested. In the long run, the cost of energy from the grid will be annoying anyone’s budget. The transition is here.

1- Fuel efficient and electric cars in SA

2- Electricity Tariffs in SA and solar option

3 — Most Recent Fuel Prices in SA

4 — Car Purchase Price increases in SA

5 — Tesla Model S

6 — Tesla Beating the Performance Cars–11–16/tesla-easter-egg-makes-the-world-s-fastest-car-even-faster

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