The global electric vehicle (EV) market is expanding rapidly, driven by increasing demands from environmentally and socially conscious consumers, advancements in battery and charging technology, and greater government support.

Although growing steadily, South Africa’s EV market is still in its infancy. Limited (and expensive) vehicle offerings, charging facilities, and battery range, a strained electricity grid, and high import tariffs hamper uptake.

Despite this, the City of Cape Town has committed to shift 2% of its internal combustion engine (ICE) fleet to EVs by 2030, in line with the national Green Transport Strategy. However, the environmental and financial impacts of such an endeavour remain uncertain.

The City contracted Royal HaskoningDHV to provide an assessment of the total cost of ownership and environmental impacts of the proposed EV conversion process.

A major finding was that converting entire fleets to currently available EVs is currently not financially attractive. However, we identified a breakthrough point for which the business case for EVs becomes economically viable, taking the high upfront costs into account.

The outputs of the study give the City's fleet administrators enough information to identify potentially viable use cases, or to decide if the upfront costs are acceptable once the environmental and brand awareness benefits associated with a conversion to electric mobility are considered.

The central recommendation was that the City initiate a partial fleet conversion, to gather real-world usage data. This data will inform ongoing reassessment and place the City in an informed position once a broader range of EVs becomes available in South Africa.