Jaguar is setting up a fast-charging network in SA in preparation for the launch of its I-PACE electric SUV next year. Picture: SUPPLIED
Jaguar is setting up a fast-charging network in SA in preparation for the launch of its I-PACE electric SUV next year. Picture: SUPPLIED

Jaguar, in partnership with electric vehicle charging authority GridCars, has laid the foundation for the future of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in SA with 82 new public charging stations in the country’s major hubs and along frequently-travelled holiday routes.

The R30m infrastructure investment will make day-to-day travel, as well as longer day trips and even very long journeys possible for owners of electric vehicles, such as the new Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV to be launched here early next year.

With a claimed range of up to 470km depending on driving style and conditions on a single charge, Jaguar says the I-Pace will comfortably fit into most drivers’ lifestyles, whether it’s commuting to and from work on a daily basis, or travelling the long distances required for intercity holiday destinations.

In addition to the publicly available charging stations to be installed in customer parking areas at every Jaguar Land Rover retailer in SA, 30 public charging stations will be erected at various points of convenience, such as shopping centres, in the country’s major hubs including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein.

Jaguar is setting up a fast-charging network in SA in preparation for the launch of its I-PACE electric SUV next year. Picture: SUPPLIED
Jaguar is setting up a fast-charging network in SA in preparation for the launch of its I-PACE electric SUV next year. Picture: SUPPLIED

SA’s city centres will now also be connected by the Jaguar Powerway — a series of 22 charging stations along the N3 between Gauteng and Durban and the N1 between Gauteng and Cape Town. Cape Town will also be connected to the Garden Route with a series of charging stations along the N2 all the way to East London.

Richard Gouverneur, MD of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa, said: "The launch of the Jaguar Powerway demonstrates our commitment to electrification technology and the future of mobility in our market. This new network provides peace of mind to our Jaguar I-Pace customers who can now experience more of their world with less range restrictions."

The majority of charging stations will be 60kWh fast chargers, meaning 100km of range will take 20 minutes. A charge from 0 to 80% will take about 72 minutes.

Every charging station will also be equipped with a 22kWh AC fast charger to accommodate plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). The AC standard Type 2 socket will allow charging of all electric vehicles (EVs) currently available in SA.

Jaguar Land Rover owners will use an RFID card to activate the charging station and manage electricity billing to the card. Cards can be credited with simple EFT payments, much like cellphone airtime top-ups. Charging station electricity rates will also be discounted by 25% for all Jaguar Land Rover EV or PHEV owners.

Like petrol, the price of electricity fluctuates, but for now the rate for 1kWh on the card will be between R3 and R3.50 depending where it’s redeemed. With a 90kWh battery, a full recharge in an I-Pace will cost between R270 and R315 — much lower than fuelling up a conventional petrol or diesel car.

The entire Jaguar charging grid and Powerway is expected to be operational by the end of November 2018.

Self-piloting motorcycle on show

A self-riding motorcycle goes against the whole Easy Rider spirit, but BMW says autonomous features will make biking safer. Picture: SUPPLIED
A self-riding motorcycle goes against the whole Easy Rider spirit, but BMW says autonomous features will make biking safer. Picture: SUPPLIED

BMW Motorrad has built a self-riding prototype of its bestselling GS 1200.

Presented at last week’s BMW Motorrad Techday at the BMW Group testing ground in Miramas, southern France, the motorcycle independently rides off, accelerates, circles a winding test track and independently slows down to a stop

What possible use could there be for an autonomous motorcycle, you ask? Doesn’t it counter the whole joy-of-riding vibe of two-wheelers in the best Easy Rider tradition?

Fear not, says BMW Motorrad, which reckons it is by no means aiming for an independent motorbike.

"Rather, the underlying technology should serve as a platform for development of future systems and functions to make motorcycling even safer, more comfortable and increase the riding pleasure," says a company spokesperson.

The aim of the prototype is to test how motorcycle safety systems can be improved to detect dangerous situations and potentially help the rider to avoid accidents.

Like the driver aids of semi-autonomous cars, the bike could employ steering and braking interventions, while turning at intersections or when braking suddenly, for example.

For maximum effectiveness these onboard safety systems would employ V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology that would give the motorcycle digital "eyes" on its surroundings. In a future all-connected V2X world the vision is for all road users — motorised vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians — to communicate with one another through digital networking and thus be able to detect, and hopefully avoid, each other.

Powered-up X3 and X4

M versions of BMW X4 and X3 will take on Porsche’s Macan Turbo. Picture: SUPPLIED
M versions of BMW X4 and X3 will take on Porsche’s Macan Turbo. Picture: SUPPLIED

BMW has confirmed that a hot M Division variant of its X3 SUV is in the pipeline. Seen as a direct rival to the Porsche Macan Turbo, the X3 M will be joined by an M version of its sportier-looking cousin, the X4.

Power will come from a six-cylinder twin-turbocharged 3l engine and four-wheel drive, and as the manufacturer has released teaser images of the slightly camouflaged new models, we already have a good idea of how they will look.

Although the X-range is rapidly expanding and is already fairly sizable, the performance variant of the X3 will represent the first time BMW has produced a mid-sized SUV of this type. The teaser images reveal a fairly aggressive look, with sporty-looking bumpers, extended side skirts and a sizeable rear spoiler.

No output figures are quoted but expect the M-powered X3 and X4 to have similar muscle to the 317kW M3 and M4. That power will be harnessed by an eight-speed automatic transmission and the selectable xDrive all-wheel drive system first introduced with the M5 sedan.

Perhaps surprisingly in the current climate, it’s believed a new diesel-powered M Performance X3 is under consideration too. If that one does make it to the production line, not a certainty at this point, it would probably be powered by the 3.0l V6 tri-turbodiesel currently found in the M50d.