Skills at the heart of the transition to electric mobility

South Africa lacks the electrical engineering and mechatronics skills needed to facilitate the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market across the value chain.

This is one of the main findings of the 2022 Green Economy Market Intelligence report compiled by the non-profit organization GreenCape.

The study is one of several developed in partnership with the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Western Cape Government’s Department of Agriculture and the Department of Business and Investment of Cape Town.

It highlights current investment opportunities in the green economy in the Western Cape, while providing national context.

According to the report, there is a shortage of skilled EV workers needed to promote the steady growth of the South African market for fully electric, battery-powered, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The shortage of specialized maintenance technicians and engineers potentially puts the local electric vehicle sector at risk, he says.

SA’s electric vehicle market lags behind the global market, with just over 15,000 units on the road. However, experts say it is ripe for more growth, provided the right environment is created, according to the Global Electric Vehicle Outlook for 2022 report.

South Africa is a major manufacturer and exporter of vehicles, with the local automotive industry ranked as the fifth largest exporting sector in the local economy in 2021, contributing 6.4% to the country’s gross domestic product, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Competition. (DTIC).

South Africa’s main automotive export markets, including the UK and Europe, have policies in place to stop the importation of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030, as more and more governments around the world are accelerating their journey towards sustainable resource consumption.

As local production remains imperative to contribute to the nation’s economy, original equipment manufacturers should have sufficient skills to accommodate local manufacturing of electric vehicles and drive adoption rate growth, according to the GreenCape report. .

“There are currently not enough skills in the automotive market and ancillary services to adapt to the growth of the electric vehicle manufacturing industry. More skills in electrical engineering and mechatronics will be needed.

“It is necessary to upgrade existing technicians to facilitate the transition to electric mobility. This training is also essential for first-level emergency responders, dealers and after-sales services, as these sectors play an important role in a functional transport sector,” the report notes.

The growing shortage of digital skills remains the biggest challenge facing businesses and has become a major threat to the progress of South Africa’s fourth industrial revolution, according to the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa.

Electric vehicles are widely seen as key to transitioning to a smart, low-carbon future, with various players trying to shape the South African electric vehicle market, with mixed results.

In 2008, Optimal Energy unveiled the Joule, the first locally produced and designed all-electric car, but had shelved the car and closed its doors by mid-2012.

Since then, several manufacturers, including EV start-ups, have become involved in local manufacturing of EV components and charging infrastructure.

Late last year, Toyota Motors SA announced that it had invested R2.6 billion in building the Corolla Cross range of hybrid vehicles, the first hybrid vehicle to be manufactured on South African soil.

The Toyota Corolla Cross.

The Toyota Corolla Cross.

Volkswagen SA is researching the sale of electric vehicles in the local market; however, he did not detail any plans for local manufacturing.

According to the GreenCape report, the necessary foundation for the transition to EV platforms is needed in South Africa, requiring design and development engineers from the mechanical or electronics domain, or cross-domain engineering, to drive the digital transformation in the automotive industry.

In addition, new maintenance and after-sales service capabilities will be needed and academic institutions in SA need to produce skilled electrical and mechatronic engineers for the workforce, the report adds.

“Nevertheless, automakers and charging infrastructure companies are the most active investors in the market, with limited current activity from battery companies. Ultimately, the cost of producing electric vehicles would drop significantly with increases in volume from economies of scale. For this increased production to occur, it is necessary to facilitate local demand for electric vehicles. »

The good news, according to GreenCape, is that the Western Cape has taken several steps to establish itself as a hub for the electric vehicle industry in South Africa, particularly from a skills development perspective.

“Several organizations based in the Western Cape are already involved in the value chain of skills development in the electric vehicle industry, as the industry prepares for the impending transition. These include the Porsche After-sales Vocational Education Training Centre, the Retail Motor Industry Organization, the Automotive Remanufacturers’ Association and the Vehicle Testing Association, which have established training programs to train an automotive workforce in courses focused on technological disruptors in the sector.

South Africans currently have a limited choice of fully electric cars. These include the BMW i3, Volvo XC40 Recharge, Jaguar I-Pace, Range Rover Sport, BMW iX, Mini Cooper SE, Porsche Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo.

More electric vehicles are expected to hit the local market this year.

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government was paving the way for local production of electric vehicles, under the new Automotive Production Development Program (APDP), which came into effect in July.

Ramaphosa highlighted the important contribution that local production of electric vehicles will make to South Africa’s economy, noting that Toyota Motors SA is setting the trend for more automakers to follow.

He pointed out that through the introduction of new policies, such as the APDP, the government is committed to supporting the local market for electric vehicles. He is making inroads to ensure SA expands production capacity in what is expected to be a growing part of the local auto market, Ramaphosa said.

The APDP calls for a globally competitive and transformed industry that actively contributes to the sustainable development of South Africa’s productive economy, creating prosperity for industry stakeholders and society at large, he said. he noted.

As part of the APDP implementation strategy, DTIC presented the Draft Green Paper on Advancing New Energy Vehicles in South Africa, which sets out a proposed roadmap for local production of electric vehicles and components in South Africa.

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (NAAMSA) has been urging the government for years to create an enabling environment for the import and local production of electric vehicles, as an important development for the auto industry.

Other lingering factors to be addressed include falling price of electric vehicles, recycling of electric vehicle batteries, reduction of high import tax, introduction of government incentive programs and development of more technologies. charging infrastructure across South Africa, according to NAAMSA.

#Skills #heart #transition #electric #mobility

Add Comment