Jaguar. Picture: SUPPLIED
Jaguar. Picture: SUPPLIED

Electric car ownership may just have become a bit more appealing for SA consumers, thanks to a nationwide rollout of charging stations by Jaguar SA.

In preparation for the arrival of Jaguar’s first fully electric vehicle (EV) in SA next year, the company plans to have 82 new public charging stations operational this month. The network will be open to all EVs and will extend the range of such cars beyond the confines of urban areas, making long-distance journeys possible without a drop of petrol.

The R30m project is in partnership with GridCars, a provider of charging systems.

The network will include 52 stations to form part of an intercity "Jaguar Powerway" along the N1, N2 and N3. It will enable car owners to drive between Joburg, Durban and Cape Town along the Garden Route without worrying about a flat battery.

The ambitious deadline is to ensure that the company has ample time to manage any issues before the launch of its I-Pace, a fully electric vehicle that has an estimated range of 470km on a single charge, and other Land Rover plug-in hybrid EVs in early 2019. Jaguar Land Rover plans to offer some degree of electrification on every new model by 2020.

A full recharge in an I-Pace will cost between R270 and R315, — a fraction of the fuel cost of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles
Izak Louw

Richard Gouverneur, MD of Jaguar Land Rover SA and Sub-Saharan Africa, says the planned launch of the Powerway demonstrates the company’s commitment to electrification technology.

The public charging stations will be split among 30 dealerships, 30 shopping centres and 22 points along SA’s national roads. If the deadline is met, this will put Jaguar ahead of the current largest electric charging network, run by BMW, which has 57 charging stations across the country, with 30 more in the pipeline by the end of 2019.

Jaguar SA public relations manager Izak Louw says that in addition to the public stations, every dealership will eventually have an AC and DC charger in its workshop. The Powerway and shopping centres will have combination AC/DC chargers at major hubs in Joburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein at the time of the launch. An AC (22kW) charger typically takes a vehicle from 0% to 80% in two and a half hours, and a DC (60kW) charger is capable of 0% to 80% in about 72 minutes. Jaguar is aiming to install 52 DC chargers, putting it well ahead of BMW, which has just five DC chargers across SA.

"We do not expect customers to drive to a dealership specifically to charge — it is much more convenient for them to make use of the shopping centre network," says Louw.

Jaguar will also give customers a home charger when they buy the I-Pace, as well as a radio-frequency identification card, to be used at all public charging stations. Jaguar will cover 25% of the electricity costs.

The card will be similar to BMW’s ChargeNow card, which is 100% covered by the company.

"As with petrol, the price of electricity fluctuates, but for now the rate for 1kWh on the card will be between R3 and R3.50 depending on where in SA it is redeemed," says Louw. "With a 90kWh battery, a full recharge in an I-Pace will cost between R270 and R315 — a fraction of the fuel cost of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles."

By Jaguar SA’s estimates, the I-Pace will be about 73% more efficient than the similarly powered 3l diesel Land Rover Discovery.

What it means

Jaguar’s Powerway will be open to all electric car brands, extending the range of such vehicles beyond urban areas

Britain’s largest automotive manufacturer began its partnership with GridCars in 2017 for the R30m upgrade.

Winstone Jordaan, director at GridCars, says the company has spent the past nine years building local capacity and expertise in EVs. "We installed our first charging stations in 2012. Since then GridCars has built four generations of the technology and today it conforms to the latest international standards for charging technology." He adds that the company has worked with all major original equipment manufacturers that have or are planning to have EVs in SA, and that the Jaguar Powerway will be open to all vehicle brands on both the AC and DC connections.

A pre-production I-Pace model, in SA for testing and certification purposes, recently completed a trip between Joburg and Durban using the Powerway.

According to the company, the vehicle left its Centurion dealership fully charged. Almost three hours and 310km later, it stopped at Bergview, Harrismith, to recharge to 100%, before continuing the 306km journey to the Durban Marina.