Zimbabwe is set to dramatically cut its fuel import bill and reduce pressure on foreign currency demands if the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) successfully convinces Zimbabweans to embrace the use of electric vehicles.

Reports say the energy regulator is in the process of acquiring an electric vehicle to be used to promote the technology in the country and convince authorities to support the initiative.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining traction across the world as they are seen as cheaper to operate compared to fossil fuel-powered motor vehicles.

Zimbabwe is using 7,6 million litres of both petrol and diesel daily and indications are the figures will continue to increase unless drastic measures such as the use energy efficient vehicles and EVs are promoted.

The country, which is contending with foreign currency shortages to import critical goods such as fuel, sees the EV technology as a panacea to the growing demand of foreign currency.

Zera acting chief executive officer Mr Eddington Mazambani, told The Sunday Mail Business in emailed responses that Government has okayed the proposal to purchase a demonstration car for trials.

“Zera, the energy regulator, has mooted the idea of adopting this EV technology and has made a decision, which has been given the nod by Government, to procure a demonstration electric vehicle to raise awareness on this technology to Zimbabweans,” said Mr Mazambani.

“Procurement of the EV is in progress and a vehicle is expected to be on the streets by Christmas this year.

“(The) fuel import bill will be drastically reduced by endorsing EVs in the domestic and commercial sectors of the economy. ICE taxis, delivery vehicles, ambulances . . . easily come to mind as good candidates for EV adoption.”

Mr Mazambani said there are numerous reasons for wading into the EV technology that include zero emissions, a drastically reduced, service routine and more powerful motors, with instant torque, implying that there is no energy wasted in acceleration.

Further, EVs have a cheaper running cost per km.

“. . . compare a US$5 charge over a 120 litres tank refill for the same trip!

“A single charge goes for the range of 400km for the vehicle to be procured, whereas a full tank fossil fuel vehicle goes for 1 200km, thus the electric vehicle would need three charges only for the same distance,” said Mr Mazambani.

EVs are also noise-free and have low maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts.

Mr Mazambani said for the course of the year, Zera will be lobbying for “total waiver or drastic reduction” on import duty on EV imports, preferential licensing system for EVs through relevant bodies and facilitating the groundwork for the future prospect of having local assembly or manufacture of EVs through relevant ministries and bodies.

EVs support infrastructure

In preparation and anticipation for the arrival of the demonstration EV, and going forward, Zera plans to assist in setting up systems for commercial EV fleets (car rentals and taxis, among others); conduct stakeholder awareness workshops; introduce charging points at vantage points; demonstrate the EV when delivered; develop pamphlets and newspaper adverts.

Already, there have been reports suggesting that a Tesla electric car has been imported into the country.

Tesla, Inc is a US automotive and Energy Company based in Palo Alto, California, which specialises in electric car manufacturing.

But after dominating the electric road for years, Tesla now faces competition from other auto makers.

Expectations are that several battery electric vehicles would be on sale in the next three years. Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3 are thought to be no match to Tesla’s products but Jaguar’s I-pace, gives Tesla a serious headache.

Tesla’s Model 3 (2017) costs US$49 000 while the Audi e-tron (2018) is pegged at US$75 000.sundaymail