SA auto sector issues tender for vehicle charging infrastructure


South Africa’s automotive industry is moving ahead with its plans for the evolution to new energy vehicles (NEVs) from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, issuing a tender for the procurement of charging infrastructure.

Naamsa CEO Mikel Mabasa said on Monday that all the investment in NEV charging infrastructure in the country to date has been erected or supported by the automotive industry, which has now taken a decision to invest and procure charging infrastructure together as an industry.

The industry issued the tender despite voicing its frustration and irritation with the government moving at a “snail’s pace” in finalising a NEV policy for the industry.

Mabasa said the industry has in the past two months gone out to tender for the procurement of this infrastructure and has received nine very good proposals from local and international companies that have expressed interest in becoming service providers.


He said individual companies were previously procuring this infrastructure in their own right as individual businesses, but are now putting their money “into one basket” to ensure the scale and impact of the infrastructure that is rolled out increases.

“We are working with the Automotive Industry Transformation Fund [AITF], which the industry set up two years ago, to support some of the infrastructure projects we are currently driving as a sector.

“We are going to use the AITF as a catalyst to drive that particular conversation as aggressively as we possibly can.”

Mabasa said charging infrastructure specifications were for a long time not universal, which meant certain companies were coming into the market with charging points dissimilar to other charging points.

“We are also talking now about how we push the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications [NRCS] to help us drive this compulsory specification, so that we can drive that as compellingly and as quickly as possible.”

SA ‘in slumberland’

In a presentation on the State of the Auto Industry in SA, Mabasa also stressed the need to accelerate the work being done on the evolution to NEVs from ICE vehicles.

“Unfortunately South Africa has been moving painfully slowly and we are very concerned we are going to be forced to play catch up as a country in relation to other markets,” he said.

Mabasa said all South Africa’s automotive counterparts in Africa are newcomers to the automotive sector, but the percentage of Africa’s automotive production capacity held by SA declined to 53% in 2021 from about 62.3% in 2020.

“Very soon we are going to dive below the 50% mark, because if you look at what is happening in Egypt and Morocco you can clearly see that people are very deliberate and they want ‘to eat our lunch’ – and they want to do that with a smile because we are still in slumberland to be quite frank,” he said.

Mabasa said Morocco is moving at “aircraft speed” not only in relation to policy but also in terms of putting the necessary points on the ground to help progress the work they are doing.

He said SA’s automotive industry is also very concerned about the ban on ICE vehicles in the UK from 2030 and the rest of the European Union from 2035.

SA at risk of pushing its biggest customer away …

Mabasa said Europe is the domestic automotive industry’s biggest customer, with 64% of the vehicles produced in SA exported – and 77% of those exports going into the European market.

“Europe has been absolutely transparent and … said very clearly that they will no longer be accepting [ICE vehicles] from 2030 onwards.

“It is for this reason that we are pushing and becoming irritators of those who are moving slowly,” he said.

Mabasa stressed the importance of finalising a NEV policy, because vehicle models have a lifecycle of between five and seven years and capital expenditure is required to recalibrate a production line to gear it up for the production of a new model.

He said the NEV market in SA is still very small compared with total sales, despite increasing by 176 between 2020 and 2021.


Mabasa said the automotive industry welcomed the recent announcement by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel that the focus will be on the production base incentive programme in the first phase of a NEV policy, but stressed that demand also needs to be stimulated.

“We certainly need to stimulate and socialise these new technologies so we can get as many people as possible to adopt them,” he said.

“We can only do that if you are able to firmly and compellingly stimulate demand – because you can produce on the one hand, but if nobody buys what you are producing, you are going to sit with a challenge.”


The Green Paper on new energy vehicles was published on 18 May 2022.

Mabasa said the progression since then into what the industry thought would be a White Paper before the end of 2021 has been very sluggish.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has not yet responded to a request for comment on the finalisation of the NEV policy and Naamsa’s criticism about the slow progress being made in finalising it.

This article will be updated once/if a response is received.

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