The initiative aims to identify, facilitate and support the development of new technologies to create a commercially viable infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles in the country. Involvement in the project includes Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, motor vehicle manufacturers Nissan and BMW, Eskom, battery technology company Willard (PowerTech), and companies such as Siemens and Sasol.
The TIA aims to accelerate development of key technologies and skills necessary to create a nationwide electrical vehicle systems support network, which will include new charging station technologies, advanced battery testing and rehandling facilities.
The e-mobility programme will focus exclusively on the viability and widespread introduction of new technologies and processes key to the success of a viable electric vehicle industry, given that South Africa will import these vehicles for the next few years.
Global investment bank HSBC estimates that approximately 18 million electric vehicles will be in use worldwide by 2020. Of these, 8.7 million will be 100% electric, while 9.2 million with be hybrids, which combine and internal combustion engine with electric capabilities.
The TIA says that part of the challenge will be to ensure that a conversion to electric transportation will not be hampered by electricity shortages and also that the electricity used will be generated from sustainable sources.