Gradual rise in electric vehicle popularity requires proper familiarisation.

The gradual rise in the acceptance of electric vehicles despite charging infrastructure challenges and unpredictability of Eskom now more than ever requires proper training to fully understand.

This is the view of MasterDrive CEO, Eugene Herbert, who stated that the flip-flopping fuel price and roll-out of more electric vehicles no longer warrants a scoffing despite the still high prices of most EVs.

Understanding is key

“South Africa faces its own challenges in changing mindsets about EV vehicles and with the energy crisis we currently face that does create challenges. This challenge alone, however, emphasises the importance of training EV drivers even more, “says Herbert.

“A company’s decision to adopt EV technology in their fleets will likely be done for a number of reasons. Yet, there are a number of small but important differences between driving an EV and a petrol-fuelled vehicle. Training ensures a driver gets the most from an EV which has safety and efficiency benefits.”

Describing the difference in driving style and technique between an internal combustion engine vehicle and an EV, Herbert stated that a better understanding will not only translate to long-term financial benefits, but become second nature and thus devoid of range anxiety or charging worries in the future.

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“EVs require drivers to understand range and how to get the most from it. In an international pilot, 67 drivers received training on driving EVs which resulted in energy consumption of the fleets decreasing by 16% and range increasing by 20%,” Herbert remarks.

“Training helps drivers understand what they can expect from the vehicle. The international study revealed range anxiety is one of the most inhibiting factors to EV uptake.

“Much concern about this can be alleviated by helping drivers understand that by simply being a smoother driver, range can be considerably increased. Yet, this is unlikely to happen without adequate training.”

EVs in South Africa

At present, South Africa’s electric vehicle count stands at 36 with the Mini Cooper SE being the cheapest at R723 000 and the Porsche Taycan Turbo S the most expensive at R3 909 000.

In August, a joint venture between Audi and GridCars saw the introduction of no less than 33 chargers between 22 kW and 150 kW at strategic places along the country’s road network as a means of alleviating range anxiety while additionally making it possible to travel long distances emissions-free.

The full network of GridCars charging stations can be viewed here.