Expanding on the three charging stations that are operational at the V&A Waterfront, the Constantia charging station is fast and secure, with a Type 2 connection enabled to charge a BMW i3, i8 as well as the Nissan Leaf.

The charging stations in Cape Town have been built in partnership with Nissan SA, while BMW has installed charging stations at 31 dealerships countrywide, at the Melrose Arch precinct in Joburg as well as at their Midrand head office.

BMW SA CEO Tim Abbott said the stations had been built with the future in mind and with the ability to cater for prospective electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEV).

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“With the memorandum of understanding and the roll-out of public charging infrastructure, the BMW Group is demonstrating its commitment to shaping the future of individual mobility with publicly accessible charging infrastructure for electrically powered vehicles. We understand that public charging infrastructure is a critical part of the future success of all electric vehicles in South Africa,” he said.

Abbott said BMW and Nissan SA MD Mike Whitfield had lobbied government to approve tax incentives for electric car manufacturers. While government officials, including Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, have indicated their support for electric cars in principle, the support has not translated into action.

Car manufacturers who import electric cars into the country pay a 25% tax levy compared to gas-guzzling cars, which are taxed 18%.

Abbott has suggested that the government consider kick-starting public interest in electric cars by scrapping tax for the first year to make the electric vehicle market more competitive.

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Nissan was among the first major car manufacturers to bring an electric car to market with the Leaf, launched in 2010, while BMW took longer, launching its first two electric cars – the i3 and i8 – only last year.

Uptake in the purchase of electric cars in SA has been slow largely owing to a lack of infrastructure.

The challenge thus far has been the significantly reduced distances that electric cars can travel compared to petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles. With no public charging points, electric car users have to install a fast charger at home or at work which costs more than R30 000.

Plans are afoot to roll out a charging station at the Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, while Menlyn Park Shopping Centre management has also expressed interest in stations being installed there.