Jaco Van Der Merwe
Head of Motoring
2 minute read
30 Nov 2021
1:12 pm

Volkswagen electric cars meant for ‘millions, not millionaires’

Jaco Van Der Merwe

Hot on the heels of the e-Golf and ID. 3 will be the German carmaker's top-selling ID. 4 SUV.

The ID. 4 SUV is Volkswagen's top-selling all-electric car.

Despite boasting what it calls “the most extensive e-offensive in the automotive sector”, Volkswagen is not yet ready to introduce a fully electric vehicle to South Africa.

Staying true to the concept of a people’s mover that put the German carmaker on the map with the beetle more than eight decades ago, Volkswagen South Africa also wants its first electric offering to be a viable option for the average buyer.

“It must be for the millions and not the millionaires,” says Steffen Knapp, head of the Volkswagen Passenger Car brand.

“We don’t want our electric mobility to be a public relations exercise. Showcasing an electric car that is out of reach of the average buyer is not going to mobilise the masses.”

Fully electric vehicles are very pricey compared to similar internal combustion powered cars. Unlike major international markets where electric cars are incentivised by government, manufacturers have a tough time getting similar kind of support from local government. Currently, import tax and duties on electric vehicles are even greater than that charged on conventionally powered vehicles.

There are five electric vehicles on offer in South Africa of which all at a premium over similar cars powered by internal combustion engines. The Porsche Taycan line-up starts at R 2 262 000, the Jaguar I-Pace costs R 1 999 900, the Volvo XC40 P8 R1 200 000, the BMW i3 line-up start at R754 200 and the Mini Cooper S E is priced at R686 400.

Audi’s e-tron range that will be introduced to the local market early next year, starts at R1 990 000.

AutoTrader’s Mid-Year Car Industry Report shows that while South African consumers are open to the idea of electric vehicles, the majority are not prepared to spend more than R500 000 on one.

VW has already tested the local waters with a test fleet of first e-Golfs and ID.3s over the last two years. The research will continue next year with the ID.4, German carmaker’s first all-electric SUV and top-selling electric car.

“It is important for us to conduct thorough research on electric vehicles before introducing them in South Africa,” says Knapp.

“Most South African drivers currently prefer internal combustion engine cars. In order to be South Africa’s best-selling electric vehicle brand, we first need to educate our consumers by getting as many of them as possible to experience electric vehicles with the hope of changing perceptions.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Volkswagen ID.3 like a Golf, Passat and Polo in one!

“The introduction of the all-electric and best-selling ID.4 will assist us with gaining valuable insights which will pave the way for Volkswagen to include electric vehicles in the future product portfolio in South Africa.”

The ID.3 and ID.4 form part of VW’s extensive electric line-up which includes ID.4 GTX, ID.5 GTX, ID.6 X, ID.6 Crozz, ID. Buzz, ID. Life.

At this stage, it looks unlikely that VW will offer a fully electric vehicle in South Africa before 2023.