We spent almost two months in South Africa and Lesotho together. It was quite a different experience to charge our car here compared to West Africa. Why? Because in South Africa we decided to charge only on the grid, because of two reasons:
- There is a fast charging network available in a big part of South Africa, which we wanted to try.
- It was winter in the time we were there, so the yield with our solar panels would be very low.
There only was one challenge; load shedding.
In South Africa each region has sometimes no electricity for an amount hours, as the amount of electricity available is insufficient for the demand. The time and durations differs per region and day. When there was no electricity, of course we could also not charge our car. The good thing is that there is an app in which you can always see the times that are planned to have no electricity, however these are not always exactly right.
When we arrived in South Africa, we wanted to charge the first time at a campsite. As we did not no yet know how load shedding worked exactly, we were caught by surprise. Just when we wanted to plug in, 10 minutes later load shedding started. Luckily we did not need a lot of energy to make it to Cape Town the next day.
Fast charging network
Once we arrived in Cape Town, there were more than enough fast chargers. This ment we could charge our car full in a bit more than one hour, where before with our solar panels this would take us at least two days of sun. Quite a difference! It gave us a lot of freedom to get quicker to locations, and we had a lot of time left to do other things. What a luxury.
Of course, in Europe this is no different. However, as we had solar charged for more than 8 months, we felt the difference big time. While fast charging we could go for a walk or do groceries, and when we came back our sunbeam was ready to go again. The weather did not have any effect on how fast we charged, and no manual input was needed while charging. All we had to do was check upfront if there was load shedding during the time we wanted to charge.
GridCars is a company in South Africa with a charge card to use all the fast charging stations. They were so kind to sponsor us a charge card for the time we were in South Africa. Therefore, we almost solely charged with the fast chargers from Cape Town to Nelspruit (in the far north-east of South Africa). When we arrived in Johannesburg, they arranged a meet-up for other EV riders in South Africa. We shared our story with them and made a picture with all the EVs together.
Electric cars in South Africa
Almost always we were the only EV using the fast charger at the time we were there, as at the moment there are only +/- 1600 EVs in use in the whole of South Africa. The amount of fast chargers available are therefore quite high compared to the amount of cars. This is mainly caused because EVs are quite expensive in South Africa, due to the high tax. We hope more EVs will be used in South Africa soon, as in our experience this country is more than ready to make the switch
Lesotho is a small country, surrounded by South Africa. We were quite surprised when we met a man at the border crossing, who told us he installed 6 charging stations in the country already 4 years ago. He shared the locations with us, as of course he would love it if they were used.
When we arrived at the charging station, we could see only 17kW was charged up until now. We more than tripled this amount… Quite interesting too see that also in this country the facilities to drive electric are there, but there are almost no cars.