27 Sep 2023 - Chris Abraham
Checkers, a South African supermarket chain, is striving to become “greener and better” by piloting an electric truck. [Image by Nelson Gono]
Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming extremely popular across the world. But few companies in Africa are willing to take the jump. EVs come with a whole host of uncertainties, including charging times, range anxiety, load-shedding impacts and electricity bills. This can make the transition challenging. The Stellenbosch University Smart Mobility lab has come to the rescue with their new EV-Fleet-Sim software.
Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS) is one of the few South African companies that have started to find potential in EV technology. The company, which owns 1100 diesel buses in Cape Town, started investigating the technology in 2021 when they invested millions of rand to purchase two EV buses. The pilot study proved successful, and they have recently announced plans to purchase 40 EV buses per year!
Such success stories require high levels of planning, research and investment. Stellenbosch University’s EV-Fleet-Sim reduces this burden, by virtually simulating the EV fleet, rather than requiring companies to purchase real EVs to investigate their ideas.
In their recent study of minibus taxis, the team behind EV-Fleet-Sim, projected the daily electricity requirements of an EV taxi concept. Taxis were simulated as EVs and were found to require 120 units of electricity to travel 250 km per day. This allowed taxi owners to evaluate their profit margins & decide if the switch would be worth it.
Companies are not only worried about economic aspects however. They are also worried whether EVs would meet the technical needs of their fleet. In the example above, taxis required a battery size around double that of a typical Tesla EV battery. This proved to be feasible. However, this may not be the case for other vehicle fleets.
Additional questions that may be applicable include: whether the EV fleet would find sufficient opportunities to charge amidst their daily operations, and how big a solar installation would be required to combat the threat of load shedding. EV-fleet-Sim answers all these questions and more
With data collection and modern computational software to ease the transition to EVs, companies in Africa have fewer reasons to investigate EV technologies for their fleets. Visit https://ev-fleet-sim.online to see if EVs could be a solution to your transport needs.