The rush by global motor companies towards alternative power sources such as electricity and hydrogen will not undermine emerging markets like SA even if vehicles driven here could eventually lag decades behind leading-edge automotive technologies. That’s the view of Klaus Frohlich, global development head at carmaker BMW. The German company said this week that in addition to the traditional internal combustion engine, every future model range would include all-electric versions and plug-in hybrids running on a combination of electricity and petrol. The first to go this route will be the X3 sports utility vehicle, assembled in Rosslyn, Pretoria, by BMW SA. Nearly all X3s built here are exported. In common with other SA manufacturers, many vehicles built locally are not suited to SA conditions. The poor quality of SA fuels rules out some of the world’s cleanest-burning, most fuel-efficient vehicles. And SA’s well-documented electricity crisis, apparently years from resolution, negate...

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