Car manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) is confident that its South African plant will be able to produce electric cars by 2035.
It says, however, several conditions will have to be met for this to happen, including having a stable electrical grid.
The European Union has set a deadline of 2035 that will see the importation of internal combustion engine cars cease.
Europe is the biggest export market for the locally produced VW Polo.
VW’s Thomas Schafer says the local factory is still central to the company’s plans to grow its market share in the local and sub-Saharan markets, despite the global move towards electrification.
“Definitely the export from here to Europe would be over unless you produce electric vehicles in South Africa and then export them to Europe, you could do that. But at the moment, the Polo is really an export champion and is very well received and we are happy with the quality from South Africa that is exported to Europe. But is this a long-term business model that makes sense, because of the C02 footprint and supply chain, you have got to export.”
“The logistics is (are) becoming more and more expensive for shipment of cars to Europe. But the business model you have to change in the long run anyway. That’s why I say (in) the regional market, you have to sell in South Africa, rather than ship cars to around the world. As a group, we always believe in building cars where you sell them.”
Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, Martina Biene, says a stable grid and the use of alternative power sources is key to manufacturing electric cars in South Africa for the African and European market.
“Yes, we would need a stable grid and we would need a development into other sources of power, mainly renewable energy which I think has started with Eskom allowing other sources of power supply. So, I think the first part is now done and we will now have to accelerate this. And again, this is not only applicable to us as VW, but that’s applicable to other manufacturers as well. But I also see this as an opportunity for South Africa and for other African markets because there are so many resources for power that this country has.”