Govt keen to set up electric vehicles infrastructure

BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

GOVERNMENT is exploring avenues of accommodating electric vehicles (EVs) in the country by setting up the requisite charging infrastructure, which is the backbone of the innovation.

This follows a partnership between the United Kingdom’s largest car manufacturer and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and German giant BMW arising from a deal geared to develop electric motors, transmissions and power electronics to tame challenges presented by electric and driverless cars.

As global car manufacturers are jostling to manufacture EVs at large scale, Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi told delegates at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe (Icaz) last week in South Africa that he was overwhelmed by requests by diasporans over the need to set up charging infrastructure in the country.

“I know some of you drive Land Rovers and BMWs. From 2020, there is no petrol and diesel cars to talk about. I am going to drive the issue of electric vehicles. We actually do not have a choice, if you read the literature around the transformation and disruption that is happening in the area of transportation,” he said.

“Right now, I am inundated with requests from fellow citizens in the diaspora who want to bring electric vehicles. And part of our strategy as government is really to disrupt the status quo in terms of how we view energy.”

US car maker Ford and German’s Volkswagen also announced this year a partnership aimed at bringing out 16 all-electric models starting next year.

Chasi said he directed government-controlled service stations to put up solar systems for charging EVs.

“I gave an instruction for all government-controlled service stations, Petrotrade and Genesis, to say they must go solar. In the process, we would like to have the in-store solar charging points for electric vehicles on service stations. I know that it sounds funny to some of you. I know that people will laugh, but I believe in being non-conventional,” he said.

“Our citizens at the moment are extremely negative, but I don’t blame them. It’s my responsibility to make sure there is transformation in terms of trust around government policies in things that we do.”

Last year, BMW group head of business and finance communications, Renate Heim, told NewsDay Business that the best way to improve the uptake of electric vehicles in its African prime market, South Africa, was to stimulate the market by reducing prices.

She added at the time, there was no government support to develop the market, and import tariffs remain higher on EVs than for internal combustion vehicles.

BMW was one of the first major car makers to launch a fully electric car, with the i3 hitting the market in 2013.

JLR also has an electric car, the Jaguar i-Pace, and both companies have a range of plug-in hybrid models.

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