10 juil 23

South Africa: No Sustainability without Renewable Energy

As a corporate fleet manager in South Africa, navigating the country's changing automotive landscape is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Over the past few years, the country has started a shift toward cleaner, more sustainable transportation options. However, several unique factors shape its journey toward a greener future.

Data in this article are provided by GHG Reporting firm  

EV Market

Firstly, it's important to acknowledge that, be it at very low volumes, Africa's EV market has experienced growth from 218 EV sales in 2021 to 500 units in 2022. This trend is set to continue, with the first two months of 2023 already seeing 160 BEVs sold. In the same vein, Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) sales have risen too, showing increased acceptance of electrified vehicles in the market.

Despite these promising trends, BEVs still represent only 0.1% of total vehicle sales. One of the main obstacles to BEV adoption is the high import duties and taxes, currently at 25% compared to 18% for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. This tax structure mostly favors premium models, making it challenging for companies to switch their fleets to more affordable electric models. (NAAMSA, Lightstone Auto, 2023)

Transition from ICE to EV

From an environmental perspective, transitioning from ICEs to BEVs would ideally bring significant reductions in CO2 emissions. However, in South Africa, this is not currently the case due to the high carbon intensity of the country's electricity mix. Around 87% of South Africa's electricity comes from fossil fuels, primarily coal, making it one of the highest emissions intensity nations among the G20 nations. The share of renewable energy is around 9%, indicating a growth trend but not yet at a level that would make a significant impact. (Climate Transparency South Africa, Enerdata, 2022). has prepared a transition simulation, based on a fleet of 1000 cars in South Africa (30K km. per year, non-renewable energy, 65% business + 15% commuting + 20% private); this, and other simulations can be made on the calculatorThe impact of electrification is extremely low without renewable energy being deployed.






















Total CO2e (ton)






Consequently, as a fleet manager, you must consider this context when thinking about transitioning to EVs. Simply switching from ICEs to BEVs won't necessarily lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions without the parallel implementation of renewable energy sources within your organization. The reality in South Africa is that transitioning to EVs requires a holistic approach. It's not just about replacing the fleet; it's also about investing in renewable energy and supporting infrastructure, engaging with employees to foster acceptance of EVs, and advocating for more supportive governmental policies.

For fleet managers, the first step could be transitioning to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). This change could provide immediate CO2 emissions reductions while preparing your fleet for a future move to BEVs. Simultaneously, fleet managers should explore opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of their organization's energy use. This could involve negotiating contracts for renewable electricity or investing in onsite renewable energy sources like solar panels.

Moreover, as part of the shift towards a greener fleet, it's crucial to consider employee engagement. The employees who will be driving these vehicles play a key role in the successful implementation of an EV fleet. Strategies like educational seminars, test drive events, and incentives can all contribute to raising awareness and interest in EVs.


Finally, fleet managers have a voice and should use it to advocate for favorable policies. Government backing can significantly ease the transition to EVs, and fleet managers can engage with policy-makers to highlight the potential benefits and the challenges that need to be addressed. In summary, as a fleet manager in South Africa, navigating the path to EVs involves overcoming unique challenges. However, by taking a strategic, holistic approach, you can lead your fleet toward a more sustainable future.

Picture Credit: Shutterstock 1410288005

Authored by: Yves Helven