Published in December/January issue of Brainstorm. Just over 500 battery electric cars were sold in South Africa in the first six months of the year, but the trend can only accelerate.


Despite South Africa’s ongoing power crisis and exorbitant electric vehicle import duties, sales for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the first half of 2023 alone has already matched total sales in 2022.

According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), 501 BEVs were sold in South Africa in the first six months of 2023, compared to the 502 registered in 2022. This figure excludes hybrids.

The top five brands include BMW with 255 units, followed by Volvo at 98, Mini at 61, Mercedes-Benz at 42 and Audi with 17 units until Q2.

Here are my top five EVs for 2023:

1. GWM Ora – Haval Motors South Africa teased the market throughout 2023 with its all-electric hatchback, the GWM Ora, which appeared at a number of car shows. Its launch was delayed while testing feasibility to sell it with charging solutions to combat loadshedding. Referred to as the “cheapest EV in South Africa”, pricing was confirmed late in 2023, starting at R686 950 for the 105kW variant equipped with a 48kWh battery pack that promises 300km of range.

2. BMW iX3 – The BMW iX3 makes the cut purely because of the price parity between its ICE counterpart, the X3 30d M Sport, which is a mere ±R36 000 difference. Maintaining an EV costs next to nothing when you factor in that it has less than about 20 moving parts, compared to over 2 000 parts on its ICE counterpart. The 210kW variant with a 74kWh battery and 460km of range comes in at R1 290 000.

3. Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge – Arriving much later than the twin-motor P8 Recharge, Volvo’s XC40 P6 single motor makes more sense for the South African market. Apart from the reliability and safety synonymous with Volvo, it’s less expensive and lighter, and is thus a more efficient drive with its smaller 69kWh battery (423km range) when compared to the 78kWh battery and 418km range on the P8. The P6 sold out within 24 hours locally. Price: From R1 077 949

4. Nissan Ariya – I had the opportunity to drive the Nissan Ariya electric crossover in Europe in early 2023 in multiple terrains, including snow at Circuit Andorra. The car stands out for its handling, over 500km range, and is packaged in a futuristic body with a modern interior. This is part of the company’s new direction to electrify some of its fleet through the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Even though Nissan has not yet confirmed the Ariya will be available in South Africa, I remain hopeful. Price: From $45 000 (R820 000).

5. BYD Atto 3 – Build Your Dreams, the top-selling EV manufacturer in the world, debuted in South Africa in 2023. A huge drawcard for its launch model, the Atto 3 compact SUV, is the ability to power your home from the car, which is very apt for the South African market. It offers 420km of range from its 60kWh derivative and is packed with the best in tech to get any EV enthusiast excited. Price: From R768 000.

Highs and Lows; 2024 Predictions; and On our radar for 2024… please read the full article on Brainstorm: