Movers & Shakers
Everlectric is jump-starting SA’s EV scene
Ndia Magadagela sells and leases Maxus electric commercial vehicles to companies including retail giant Woolworths
The slow uptake of electric propulsion in SA hasn’t deterred Ndia Magadagela, CEO of Everlectric, from starting an electric car company.
“He who moves first always wins. He who hesitates is lost,” says Magadagela who aims to supply full-electric commercial fleets to companies with net zero-emissions obligations. However, there’s more to this local automotive industry disrupter than meets the eye.
How to disrupt
The company sells and leases Maxus electric commercials to companies including retail giant Woolworths, which uses its panel vans for grocery deliveries.
Everlectric’s offerings include a network of charging infrastructure, live monitoring and an EV fleet-specific insurance package. Asked if the company plans to enter the passenger car market, the CEO says: “It became pretty clear very early on that we needed to be agile to cover any glaring gaps as the business grows and the local market gradually opens up to electrification.
“We can wait for organic market growth and use our existing partnerships to reply to customer demands, like bringing in an electric hatch or sedan, or we can find immediate solutions elsewhere,” she adds.
The need to diversify arrived with bespoke, new customer requirements. Some companies require a commercial EV that can accommodate a team of engineers and cargo, thus leading to the decision to include the Maxus T90EV, a battery-electric, double-cab bakkie.
The CEO says a four-tonne truck supplied by Jianghuai Automobile Co (JAC) will soon join the Everlectric catalogue. The Chinese brand already markets its diesel-powered trucks and bakkies in SA, and will soon introduce a T9 double-cab with hybrid and full-electric models.
This is a new kind of automotive business model in SA, enabling vehicle brands to focus on selling conventional fleets while independent start-ups such as Everlectric look after the specialised leasing or trading of electric models, though the electrified JAC bakkie range doesn’t form part of the arrangement.
“Load-shedding trips the case for electric car adoption, as well as range anxiety and the price of the things, but mindsets are changing,” Magadagela says.
The crisis can be managed by planning ahead, and by integrating a fleet monitoring system companies are able to use information on scheduled power outages and monitor the status of their charging infrastructure to navigate for efficient deliveries.
“The system has helped to maintain our 100% delivery rate over the last two years,” Magadagela adds.
Government and electrification
Magadagela acknowledges the challenges facing the local automotive industry and its wrangling with the government to finalise policy on electric vehicles. She says the wheel is moving, albeit slowly, and she is happy the language of the department of trade, industry & competition is changing to one of co-operation. She adds it’s imperative SA moves quickly to resolve the matter.
“A critical issue that also needs urgent address is training. There’s no formal curriculum for EV technologies at our educational institutions,” Magadagela says. “How are we to safeguard jobs of the future if our students are still being trained to become diesel mechanics in the middle of the electric revolution? Government and industry need to with a plan for this, and very soon.”
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