Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dirty fuel conundrum may open door to electric vehicles in Africa

Dirty fuel conundrum may open door to electric vehicles in Africa
Another electric car related story from Irma Venter at Creamer Media's Engineering News.  
South Africa is fifteen years behind the rest of the world in terms of legislation regulating the quality of fuel available at the pump, says National Association of Automobile Manufacturers director Nico Vermeulen. He says new clean fuel legislation should have been in place in 2017, but will now only, most likely, become available “in 2021, 2022”.
It appears the fuel we fill our cars with in South Africa isn't of the quality and cleanliness of fuel sold elsewhere in the world.

Volkswagen South Africa MD Thomas Schäfer suggests electric mobility is the answer.
One solution to the problem would be to support the introduction of electric vehicles in South Africa and the rest of Africa, he suggests, “leapfrogging the fuel quality problem”. He says many people believe that electric mobility is too advanced for Africa, and not suitable for the continent, while it should rather be considered that electric mobility may be able to nullify the problem of different emission standards in the developing and developed worlds. 
This makes perfect sense, instead of trying to make dirty old transport technologies cleaner, why not just go straight to an already clean transport technology, electric mobility.

There won't have to be huge government investment to kick start mass EV adoption in the country, we just need incentives. Incentives for manufacturers to produce and sell electric vehicles, incentives for motorists to buy electric vehicles and incentives for businesses to offer charging services while their customers are shopping/eating/gyming/watching a movie etc.

Electric mobility is not too advanced for Africa, quite the opposite. An electric vehicle needs minimal maintenance compared to an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. It doesn't need oil,plug or filter changes and it's fuel supply is wherever there is electricity, be it via a plug socket or a solar charger. Solar chargers could be put in the most remote areas, places that it would be too impractical and costly to build petrol stations. Also there would not be the challenge of transporting the fuel in the first place to these locations.

New technologies in South Africa tend to rapidly replace the old ones. CD's quickly saw the demise of LP's in record shops and MP3's more or less have seen the near total disappearance of the record shops. Digital cameras saw the extinction of film cameras in the shops in just a few years and cell phone cameras have pretty much done the same to digital cameras. Once electric cars become a bit more affordable they will spell the end for dirty fossil fuel powered vehicles in the country.

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