Nissan-Eskom Deal Targets EV Power Concerns


One of BMI 's long-held concerns regarding the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in South Africa, aside from the lack of incentives, is the ability of the national power grid to accommodate widespread charging of vehicles (see ' Insufficient Power Supply Will Restrict Nissan's Attempts To Get EV Backing', August 5 2010) . This is now being addressed by a partnership between Nissan South Africa and national utility Eskom , to research the effects of EVs on the grid.

BMI has previously argued that South Africa's fragile power supply will be a major obstacle to widespread EV take-up, even with Eskom 's capex plans in place. The three-year project with Nissan will test the electricity usage of 10 Leaf pure EVs to determine whether the energy required for charging and customer usage patterns will actually provide cause for concern. It will also monitor customer perceptions of the vehicles and gauge the potential for EV usage in Eskom's own corporate fleet.

At a time when the government is also finalising its long-awaited Electric Vehicle Industry Roadmap (see 'Too Many Unknowns Surround EV Plan', May 7), the project will provide information, which could be used to recommend special tariffs for charging. The idea of payment for discharging energy from the car's battery to the national grid is also under consideration.

Power Struggle
South African Net Electricity Capacity (MW) And Capacity Growth (% chg y-o-y)

Nissan has been looking to launch the leaf in South Africa for a number of years, but has been held back by a lack of clear policy. The carmaker engaged the Department of Trade and Industry in talks regarding an EV policy back in 2009, with a view to a 2012 launch. Now, Nissan is aiming to roll out the car, which has sold more than 60,000 units worldwide, by the end of 2013. However, the launch is still dependant on government policy being finalised.

BMI believes the research carried out under the partnership will fill several gaps remaining in the EV policy proposed earlier in May. However, we highlight consumer incentives as an area still in need of attention in order to promote widescale take-up of EVs. Other than the Green Vehicle Finance Scheme, launched by ABSA Bank in 2011, there has been little in the way of positive incentives for consumers, and BMI has argued that policy has been more 'stick' than 'carrot' in the form of the carbon emission tax introduced in September 2010.

When the EV plan is finalised and implemented, Nissan stands to benefit from being a first mover and an active stakeholder in the development stages. However, there is potential for competition, as BMW and Toyota Motor have also welcomed the progress made with the proposed policy. With BMW investing heavily in its electric 'i' series of vehicles and Toyota now offering a plug-in version of the Prius, the market could soon be well populated and diverse.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Autos
Geography: South Africa