German automaker, Mercedes-Benz is set to deploy 127 new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in South Africa (SA), investing $2.13 million in the initiative, as SA witnesses a growing demand for electric vehicles.
The country currently boasts over 400 public and private charging stations, with plans underway to significantly increase this number. Other electric vehicle manufacturers, distributors, and charging network managers have announced their intentions to install additional stations, aiming to bring the total to 700 in 2024.
This surge in electric vehicle adoption in South Africa is surprising given the nation’s persistent energy challenges. Since 2007, South Africa has suffered widespread national blackouts, with the electricity supply consistently failing to meet demand. The blackouts, referred to as “load shedding,” have become more frequent, impacting SA’s economic performance, as noted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Also, electric vehicles in South Africa face substantial taxation. The value-added taxes (VAT) imposed on electric vehicles, including those imported by Mercedes-Benz, contribute to making these cars more expensive in South Africa, compared to many other regions worldwide. In May the price of an imported pickup truck in South Africa was approximately 89% higher than its retail price in the United States.
Despite these challenges, the adoption of electric vehicles in South Africa extends beyond individual consumers. Various businesses, including ride-hailing and delivery startups, have embraced electric vehicles as part of their fleets. Ride-hailing service, Uber, has revealed plans to launch its first electric vehicle-based service, named Uber Package, in Cape Town, South Africa, starting in December.
The move by Mercedes-Benz to invest in EV charging infrastructure aligns with the broader industry’s commitment to supporting the growing demand for electric vehicles in South Africa. While the energy crisis and taxation hurdles persist, the shift toward electric mobility appears to be gaining momentum, driven by both individual and business consumers in the country.