The electric car conversation has stalled somewhat on the global scene. We’ve had electric cars for a very long time though they haven’t always been practical vehicles. A lot has changed in the last 10 years and electric vehicles are now mainstream vehicles. In a year when people are feeling the pinch of fuel prices more than ever, there’s bound to be a lot of conversation about electric vehicles. Zimbabwe of course has its unique considerations when it comes to electric cars and that’s what we will be discussing below, the pros and cons of electric cars in Zimbabwe. Of course, electric car models like Tesla bundle a lot of great technology in them but our focus is purely on the electric car part and not the smart technology bundled with it.
There are benefits to owning electric cars but we must look at them through a Zimbabwean lens to understand if in fact, they are benefits and if so how much of a benefit it amounts to.
First and foremost the environmental impact of a combustion engine. A lower impact on the environment by the driver is an honourable benefit in a world that pollutes more and more but is starting to realise that this practice is simply unsustainable in the long run. This benefit is not derived individually and not immediately. This is an enduring benefit that will hopefully be felt for years to come if the adoption rate is high enough and fast enough. Also, when looking at emissions we must be cognisant that reducing emissions in your part of the world alone isn’t enough to save the world, even your part of it.
Low running costs
Electric vehicles do present lower running costs. This area is a little complicated to explain but the running costs are ultimately cheaper. First of all, electricity is a cheaper energy source than petrol and diesel, especially in Zimbabwe. Tests conducted by Business Tech in South Africa suggest that at South African price levels (this is important) combustion engines cost 3 times as much per kilometre in real-world driving conditions.
There are significant drawbacks to using electric vehicles in Zimbabwe. What many would cite as benefits in other economies are rendered drawbacks in the Zimbabwean context because of the conditions.
The cost of these vehicles is hefty. Buy cost means the upfront purchase price. Electric vehicles are still new to the market and a costly technology while from the individual perspective you have many years of second-hand combustion vehicles to choose from. Simply put the cost factors make combustion engines more accessible.
No buying benefits
Former Minister of Energy Fortune Chasi passionately pushed for incentives for buying and importing electric vehicles. Sadly the push came to nought and there are no benefits or incentives for buying electric vehicles in Zimbabwe. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but when compared with practice across the world which provides benefits and rebates for owners of electric vehicles you realise we could and should be doing better in this regard.
No tax benefits
Just as there is no buying there are also no tax benefits for electric vehicle owners. This is both upfront and ongoing benefits. Again when we look at international practice there are many tax benefits for electric vehicle owners in different territories.
Presently Zimbabwe has very few charging ports and they are not distributed evenly. This is understandable as electric vehicle adoption is very low in the country. The good news we are seeing investment in charging points and you assume that as the technology progresses we will see more of these.
You cannot run away from Zimbabwe’s electricity supply problems in this discussion. And we need to be clear that Zimbabwe’s problem is a supply issue. Adding electric vehicles to the mix would increase the demand. If this is done, as has been in the past, without adequate investment in the generation of electricity we are asking for trouble as a nation. As an individual, the erratic power supply may render the experience of owning an electric vehicle frustrating at best.
As things stand one would approach electric vehicle ownership more cautiously.