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From left to right: The Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Progressive, Volvo XC40 Recharge Single Motor, GWM Ora 400 GT Ultra Luxury and BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine in action at the Gerotek High-Speed Oval Track in Pretoria. Picture: SUPPLIED
From left to right: The Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Progressive, Volvo XC40 Recharge Single Motor, GWM Ora 400 GT Ultra Luxury and BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine in action at the Gerotek High-Speed Oval Track in Pretoria. Picture: SUPPLIED

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are more than doubling every year, with a 133% increase in EV sales in the used car market in 2023 compared with 2022.

However, SA consumers are still anxious about range, expressing concern about the distance EVs can travel on a charge on the open road.

Now in its third year, AutoTrader’s annual #ElectricCarChallenge is designed to address these concerns and set a national benchmark for electric mobility in SA.

Its intention is to establish the distance EVs can achieve on a charge while travelling non-stop at 120km/h on a typically hot SA day with the AC set at 21°C. 

The 2023 results revealed that when driven non-stop from 90% battery charge down to 10%, the EVs tested typically have a range of between 199.9km and 254.7km.

“The tests are based on SA conditions rather than the cooler European testing scenarios,” said AutoTrader CEO George Mienie.

“In addition to setting a benchmark for EV variants, the aim is to produce a historical reference point upon which to look back and evaluate battery performance advancements year-on-year as battery technology evolves.”

In previous years, cars were driven to 0% of battery charge (2021) or from 100% to 10% (2022). In 2023, EV batteries were tested from 90% down to 10% to simulate real-world conditions.

“To maintain good battery life, EVs should not be driven to lower than 10%,” said Mienie.

The battery challenge took place on a hot day (32°C) in November 2023. Picture: SUPPLIED
The battery challenge took place on a hot day (32°C) in November 2023. Picture: SUPPLIED

The battery challenge took place on the Gerotek high-speed oval track in Pretoria on a hot day (32°C) in November 2023.

Four 2023 registered EVs, all priced R2.5m or less, were put to the test — three compact SUVs (Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Progressive, BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine, Volvo XC40 Recharge Single Motor) and one hatchback (GWM Ora 400 GT Ultra Luxury).

The Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 posted a distance of 254.7km at an average speed of 117.35km/h in a time of 2 hours 8 minutes and 53 seconds.

Averaging 117.5km/h, the BMW iX1 covered 238.7km in 2 hours 2 minutes and 19 seconds.

Covering a distance of 214.5km, the Volvo XC40 Recharge posted a time of 1 hour 49 minutes and 33 seconds while travelling at an average speed of 116.25km/h.

The GWM Ora 400 GT achieved 199.9km at an average speed of 105.25km/h. The retro-styled hatch covered the distance in 1 hour 34 minutes and 49 seconds.

In addition to the EVs, SA’s best-selling new hybrid car, the Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid XS, was also tested with the aim of recording fuel efficiency. The hybrid faced the same conditions as the EVs.

Emulating the typical SA daily commute of 44km, tests mimicking highway driving (44km non-stop at the national speed limit) and 44km stop-start city style driving, were conducted.

The Corolla Cross produced a consumption of 6.7l/100km for highway driving. That equates to a range of 537km from the hybrid’s 36l tank. Figures were even more favourable for city driving, where the car posted 4.6l/100km, or a range of 782km.

Battery technology continues to evolve at pace, with advancements bringing longer ranges. This is likely to reduce range anxiety and accelerate greater EV adoption in SA.

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