by David Mathews


South Africa car hire electric map


The top ten countries leading the electric vehicle race and setting the standard for lower carbon emissions has been revealed and despite the various electric vehicles available to buy, South Africa is nowhere to be seen!

Electric vehicles have disrupted the transportation and technology industries. They have shown how important it is to find alternate sources of fuel and they can positively affect the environment and society as a whole. But South Africa is falling far behind and is struggling to keep up to speed with global developments in electric vehicles.

For many, electric vehicles offer several benefits over petrol or diesel vehicles. Lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance bills, and zero or discounted car tax are just some of the ways that running costs are lowered.

But, in a new report titled the State of Electric Vehicles in South Africa, out of more than 10-million cars on South African roads, only about 1,100 are electric. This number is growing by only a handful each month. Whereas globally, numbers are growing by up to 40% annually. To put this into perspective on the global stage, some European countries, such as Norway have over 480,000 EVs on their roads.

South Africa has a population of 58.56 million, which means that for every electric vehicle, there are 53,236 people! In the Netherlands, there are 58 residents for every electric car!

But there might be a deeper routed issue with electric vehicle adoption in South Africa. Electricity load shedding, a deliberate rolling blackout cutting off power to a large proportion of the grid for hours at a time, means that there can be long periods without mains electricity throughout the country. 2019 was the worst year on record for load shedding, with blackouts lasting for a total of 530 hours. The country's scarcity of electricity represents a major barrier to investment into electric car infrastructure, which in turn makes the short to medium term large scale adoption of electric vehicles look unlikely.

South Africa car hire electric detail


Looking at tax, it seems that South Africa actively penalises buyers of electric cars with an ordinary car attracting an 18% import duty, but an electric one 25%. Current import conditions do not favour electric vehicles and South Africa does not manufacture battery-electric passengers' vehicles to provide for the mass market. This impacts consumer choice in the switch to electric mobility.

And despite it being a well-known fact that electric cars are cheaper to run than traditional vehicles with engines, South Africans feel the purchase price is a major obstacle to ownership.

But there's more work to be done for South Africa to reach anywhere near the top ten. In the recent State of Electric Vehicles in South Africa report, the national uYilo eMobility Programme addresses the four focal points of the current standing and future of electric vehicles in the country.

"Air quality, manufacturing, imports, charging infrastructure and government policy, are the main focal areas for electric vehicles in South Africa," says uYilo.

"Each of these must be addressed in order for South Africa to follow the global transition to non-fossil fuel transportation, boost consumer adoption and to remain competitive on the international stage."

There is now a societal need to switch to electric cars. So, who is leading the way when it comes to electric vehicles?

We looked at the leading countries in electric vehicle sales and market share, and then crossed referenced against population figures, and the number of electric vehicle charging points to calculate a leaderboard.

This leaderboard tells us who is leading the race to become the first-ever electric vehicle only and setting the standard for lower carbon emissions.

The Netherlands was found to be most advanced in the roll out of electric vehicle technologies followed by Norway and Sweden with France ranked in fourth place.


South Africa car hire electric results table


Car Hire at South Africa's Main Airports

Johannesburg International Airport

Located in North East South Africa, Johannesburg Airport is South Africa's busiest airport for international travel, handling over 21 million passengers per annum. If you'd like to fly into the Airport and then continue on to your destination, you can collect hire cars at Johannesburg International Airport . If you're planning a road trip there are some great options available, including everything from national parks to coastal roads. All of the main car hire locations in Johannesburg Airport are located at the main car rental pick up area by the entrance to the terminal building, just behind the Intercontinental Hotel.

Cape Town International Airport

Cape Town International Airport, located in the South West corner of South Africa, South Africa's second busiest airport, handling approximately 11 million passengers per year. It's easy to collect a rental car at Cape Town Airport then continue your journey onward. Most of the car hire brands are in front of the terminal in the dedicated car hire pick up zone. If you're travelling east from the airport, Franshhoek Valley, the settling place of the Huguenots in the 17th Century and now famous for its wine, is a short 1 hour drive from the airport.

Durban Airport

Durban International Airport, on South Africa's East coast, is South Africa's 3rd most popular airport, servicing approximately 6 million passengers per year. You can collect your car hire at Durban Airport, the majority of the car rental providers are in the dedicated car rental area just outside the airport terminal building. Once you've collected your hire car, you can get into Durban City from the airport in around 30 mins.

Port Elizabeth Airport

Approximately halfway between Durban and Cape Town, Port Elizabeth Airport handles just over 1.5 million passengers per year. Port Elizabeth is a domestic terminal, so if you plan to arrive via an international flight, you'll have to arrive via Durban, Cape Town or Johannesburg and then get a connecting flight. On arrival you can collect an affordable rental car at Port Elizabeth Airport for your onward journey. All of the main the car rental companies can be found outside of the terminal building in the dedicated rental car zone. If you're heading north when you've picked up your hire car, we recommend spending half a day at Addo Elephant Park which is a short 1 hour drive away from the airport. Addo Elephant Park is South Africa's third largest national park after Kruger and Kgalagadi.

Most Popular Destinations for Rental Cars in the Southern Hemisphere

View all other car hire locations in South Africa