South Africans have several electric cars to choose from with maximum driving ranges of around 500km, with the BMW iX xDrive50 offering 630km of range on a single charge.
One of the main stumbling blocks progressive car manufacturers face in convincing people to buy electric vehicles (EVs) is “range anxiety”.
This is the fear that the car would run out of charge before reaching a charging station or plug point to refill the battery.
Developed countries with many EVs on their roads have extensive charging infrastructure, but South Africa is still far behind on this front.
Tesla alone operates over 30,000 Supercharger stations worldwide, including in the US, UK, Australia, and across Europe.
780 of these are located in the UK, a country about five times smaller than South Africa.
The GridCars live map of electric car charging infrastructure in South Africa shows there are only about 189 charging stations in the country, covering multiple manufacturers and including dealership-based chargers.
On top of this, most chargers only offer a 22.2kW output, meaning they will take much longer to fill up a battery sufficiently compared to Tesla’s Superchargers which can range between 60kW and 180kW output.
Until sufficient charging infrastructure is rolled out in the country, South Africans will likely consider high range in EVs an important factor when weighing up their buying options.
While a recent poll by motoring news website Top Auto showed that most motorists require far less range per day than is offered by most EVs, many would still take comfort in knowing they will be able to use their car even if long-term load-shedding struck or they had to drive further than their usual commute.
South Africa’s first electric car, the Nissan Leaf, had a small 24kW battery that could only go up to 200km on a single charge.
Fortunately, that has changed, with most newcomers in recent years offering battery packs well over 50kWh and claimed ranges varying between about 300km and 600km.
The car with the highest potential range on a single charge that you can buy in South Africa right now is the BMW iX xDrive50.
The electric SUV packs a massive 111.5kWh battery which offers up to 630km of range before requiring a charge.
In real life, drivers should expect substantially less range, however.
The maximum range is based on a set of ideal conditions, including optimal driving habits, speed, temperature, and the use of other features.
According to BMW’s range calculator, the iX xDrive50 will provide an estimated range of 350km with a 50/50 balance of urban and highway travel, 30 degrees celsius outdoor temperature, and the air conditioning turned on.
Here are the top 5 electric cars you can buy in South Africa right now with the highest potential travelling range per charge.
Where various configurations are available under the same model, we’ve only included the option with the highest range.