While South Africa’s electricity crisis is cited by many as the reason that the country is not ready for electric vehicles (EVs), Accenture’s Greg Cress contends that loadshedding could be the catalyst for the decentralisation of the country’s green energy roll out and may fuel the shift to emobility.
Speaking at a conference for supply chain professionals co-hosted by SAPICS (The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management) and SAAFF (South African Association of Freight Forwarders), Cress said that it was critical to put the gas on – without the gas – in the race to net zero carbon emissions. He stressed that South Africa needed to focus its EV transition not just on private cars, but also on trucks, light delivery vehicles and buses. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), road transport (cars, trucks and buses) account for 28% of global CO2 emissions.
Cress, who is the Sustainable Energy and eMobility lead at Accenture, outlined two possible emobility scenarios in South Africa’s future. In the “Beetle” scenario, the country will have continued on the status quo path, only investing in manufacturing and exporting ICE vehicles, and not transforming facilities to make and assemble EVs. “If this plays out, South Africa will become irrelevant on the global stage. Demand for our exports will decline, unemployment will rise, and large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may exit South Africa’s automotive manufacturing sector,” he asserted.
He stressed that South Africa needed to pursue the “Charged-Up” scenario, in which the country’s assembly plants have been transformed for electric vehicles, 60% of which are exported. Expanding on this scenario and the benefits, Cress said: “Consumers will have transitioned towards green and sustainable technologies and adopted EVs. Cities, OEMs and independent power producers will have created an ‘energy alliance’ to offset the dependence on Eskom for EV charging infrastructure. Understanding the benefits of an EV future, Government will have made tremendous progress in removing all the red tape that hampers EV adoption. South Africa’s economy will have recovered, the GDP will be growing and unemployment dropping in this scenario.”
Sustainability and the shift towards emobility are among the important topics that will be explored at the 46th annual SAPICS Conference, which takes place in Cape Town from 9 to 12 June 2024. This important conference is the leading education, knowledge sharing and networking gathering for the African supply chain community. In 2024, it will be held under the theme “Supply Chain Metamorphosis” and hosted by SAPICS in association with SAAFF. More information can be obtained by visiting https://conference.sapics.org/
Cress said that the retail logistics and supply chain sectors have a critical role to play in the move to sustainable mobility and achieving a “Charged-Up” future for South Africa. He noted that globally, many logistics companies are transitioning to electric vehicles. These include FedEx, UPS and DHL. Heavy commercial OEMs like Volvo are focusing on EVs, and Coca-Cola, which is switching to electric trucks, aims to have transformed its fleet to 100% electric vehicles by 2030. In California, Volvo and Shell Recharge have partnered to build an “Electrified Charging Corridor Project” for medium and heavy duty EVs.
Volvo’s first electric truck sold in South Africa was delivered to KDG Logistics earlier this year, while Woolworths is the first South African retailer to embark on an extensive rollout of electric panel vans in partnership with DSV and Everlectric, Cress said.
He stressed that the diversification and decentralisation of energy generation are national imperatives for South Africa right now, and that both small-scale and large-scale generation projects have roles to play. “More EVs will lead to more decentralised (and mobile) energy storage. It is also critical to establish a viable EV battery recycling value chain in South Africa,” he noted, and said that the Global Battery Alliance, which has leading mining companies among its members, is leading the way on this front.
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