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South Africa's foremost electric mobility platform

  • Writer's pictureIan McLaren

Top 5 all-electric cars poised to launch in South Africa

And 3 more waiting in the wings…

As exciting as respective commitments by the likes of Jaguar, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been towards electric mobility in South Africa, the taxation-linked premiums currently associated with the all-electric offerings from each of these brands means that each new announcement can broadly be viewed as a marketing exercise aimed at establishing an early foothold, rather than a genuine attempt at capturing big-number sales volume.

While it’s in the best interest of the above-mentioned premium brands to make these pre-emptive moves, it stands to reason that there are other big players on the South African motoring landscape biding their time until pricing structures can be adjusted to make the introduction of some very compelling respective products financially viable.

Already receiving favourable reviews in other markets, these are the products we’re most excited about driving on local soil:

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Based on the 45 EV concept car shown at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show, the Ioniq 5 is Hyundai’s very clear statement of intent when it comes to embracing electric mobility. While the brand also markets an all-electric version of is Kona crossover in Europe, unlike that derivative, the Ioniq 5 is a ground-up new product built on Hyundai’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).

Including the skateboard-mimicking installation of a battery pack below the floorboard and between the front and rear axles, the Ioniq 5 is slightly longer than the current Tucson package and broader at the hips than a modern Sante Fe.

Boasting 800 V architecture for potentially impressively fast charging times, the Ioniq 5 is offered in most markets with a choice of either a 58 kWh or a 72.6 kWh battery. Both can be ordered in either rear-wheel drive or with the inclusion of a supplementary front-mounted motor for an all-wheel drive setup. The larger of the two battery options has a claimed operating range of 460 km when powering all four wheels, or 480 km when installed in a lighter, rear-wheel drive configuration. Where the available range may be smaller, the advantage the all-wheel drive model has is an additional 65 kW (to a total of 225 kW) and a claimed 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 5.2-seconds.


Sharing its E-GMP platform with its Hyundai Ioniq 5 cousin, the beautifully proportioned EV6 is nevertheless touted to be the more dynamically inclined of the two cars. Like the Hyundai, Kia’s first ground-up EV is available in either a default rear-wheel drive configuration, or all-wheel drive via the inclusion of an electric motor on the front axle.

Highlights of this multiple award-winning package include purportedly class-leading cabin ergonomics and infotainment system functionality, as well as a so-called “reverse charging” feature that allows the car to deliver up to 3.6 kW worth of energy back into either a household or, indeed, another EV when required.

Including a six-stage regenerative braking system – and like in the Ioniq 5 – the EV6’s 800 V architecture can accommodate a (infrastructure dependant) charge from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. Via a 50 kW DC station currently being installed throughout South Africa, the Kia can be charged to 80% in just over an hour.

While the EV6 is offered in the UK market, for example, with a 77.4 kWh battery in two states of tune (168 kW rear-wheel drive or 239 kW all-wheel drive), there’s talk of a flagship GT model offering 430 kW and 740 N.m of torque.

With a model dependant claimed operating range of up to 510 km, Kia offers a 7-year warranty on the EV6’s battery.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Given the continued global success of the modern petrol-powered Mustang package, it wasn’t too much of a stretch that Ford would attempt to leverage this hallowed nameplate onto its first all-electric product.

Built on the brand’s Global Electrified (GE1) platform, the Mustang Mach-E is the 2021 North American SUV of the year. Rear-wheel driven (of course) by default, the car can also be ordered with the addition of a second electric motor up front. While the latter arrangement extends to a flagship 360 kW GT model boasting a claimed 3.8-seconds 0-100 km/h sprint time, the 198 kW entry-level, rear-wheel drive model makes use of a 68 kWh battery pack to offer an operating range of up to 370 km between charges.

Highlights of the muscular-looking Mach-E package include a massive, portrait-orientated touchscreen infotainment display and the ability to gain access to the car via a smartphone-linked sensor incorporated within the B-pillar.

Volkswagen ID.4

This is a massive product for Volkswagen. While there’s rightly a lot of hype around the rebirth of the “kombi” as an all-electric adventure bus, similar the role that the iconic Golf has played through its eight generations, the mandate of the ID.4 is to appeal to as broad an audience as possible.

“A car for the millions, not the millionaires,” is the slogan VW uses to describe the ID.4. Built on the brand’s MEB platform, the 2021 World Car of the Year is set to play a crucial role in Volkswagen’s ambitions plans for 70% of its global sales to be made up of EV by 2030.

Billed as a Coupé SUV, the ID.4 is available in Europe a choice with of either a 52 kWh or 77 kWh battery. Offering up to 125 kW in rear-wheel drive guise or 150 kW in an all-wheel drive setup, the brand touts a model dependent operating range of up to 522 km.

With the new GTX badge set to replace the legendary GTI lettering on performance-focused VW EV products, the ID.4 GTX boasts a more dynamically inclined suspension arrangement and a claimed 0-100 km/h sprint time of 6.2 seconds. The all-wheel drive model has an operating range of up to 482 km, depending on driving conditions.

Mindful of the levels of comfort and convenience that the average buyer of Volkswagen’s volume models has come to expect, the ID.4’s interior appointments have evolved from the look and feel of what’s currently offered in the likes of the Golf and Tiguan.

Honda e

It’s a big maybe, but we can’t think of more exciting potential product launch with which to reignite a South African audience’s enthusiasm for a brand. Once massive players in our market with models like Ballade, Jazz and CR-V, the Honda brand has in recent years struggled to realise similar levels of success. While its modern product line-up remains honest and, by all accounts, reliable, stifled by broadly under-powered internal combustion engines and droning CVTs, competition from the likes of the Korean and fast-evolving Chinese brands has largely consigned the Honda badge to runner-up status in our market.

Launched in 2019, while the retro styling of the plucky Honda e pays homage to the first-ever Civic from 1973, its compact packaging is meant to appeal to a young, vibrant and predominantly urban-bound audience. Featuring a 35.5 kWh battery that’s good for an operating range of around 200 km, we think the Honda e would be a perfect fit (to replace the Fit) for a student or young professional with easy access to either a home wall charging station for overnight top-ups or, indeed, a row of campus-bound charging stations.

The what ifs…


While to date Mr Musk hasn’t shown much interest in launching his Tesla brand into the country of his birth, based on sentiment alone we think he’d find an enthusiastic audience. A pioneer brand in the EV space, the performance figures, operating range, infrastructure technologies and in-car innovation associated with Tesla passenger cars continue to serve as a benchmark for the chasing pack. The gap is closing fast, though, and we suspect that in the time needed for Tesla to get properly setup in our market, the established Korean and German brands will have products available here that will make Tesla’s offerings a compelling alternative, rather than a mainstream choice.

Toyota bZ4X

This is potentially tricky decision for Toyota South Africa. Hot on the heels of its commitment towards hybrid technology as the interim solution for decreased emissions and fuel consumption for its broad and diverse local audience, we’re not convinced this important player in our market has the appetite to introduce its first-ever all-electric product here. More sensitive than most brands when it comes to both price point, servicing infrastructure and long-distance capabilities, we presume Toyota South Africa will look to its premium Lexus brand to carry the EV flag for the forceable future.

That said, the Toyota bZ4X and its Lexus RZ sister car look set to spearhead its Japanese maker’s ambitions towards a more sustainable future. Built of an all-new e-TNGA platform (shared with Subaru) and featuring a 71.4 kWh battery pack, front-wheel drive models look set to offer up to 500 km worth of operating range, while all-wheel drive versions feature a supplementary electric motor on the rear axle.


An all-electric bakkie for a bakkie-crazy market…

The California-based brand that gained instant fandom with its heroics in Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Up expedition has been steadily building on this momentum via impressive innovation within the all-electric and autonomous driving space, as well as a particularly refreshing attitude towards e-mobility.

The brand’s R1T pick-up features two electric motors on each axle, front and rear. Marketed with a choice of three battery capacities ranging from 105 kWh to 180 kWh, this double-cab bakkie has a claimed 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 3.0 seconds. While an additional battery pack can be installed for added range when required, the flagship model offers an operating range of up to 640 km.

Futuristic in its design, inside and out, highlights of the R1T package include a minimalistic cabin made largely from recycled materials, as well as a clever, out-of-sight packing space sited between the cabin and load bay.

Able to instantly adjust power delivery to any wheel when required, the Rivian has quickly established itself as an impressive off-road performer.

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