NEVs: SA to have 500 public charging stations by year-end

Motorists who have shifted from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to new energy vehicles (NEVs) are set to have access to more than 500 charging stations on South Africa’s major roads by the end of this year.

There is likely to be a further significant expansion in the number of charging stations in 2025.

This follows Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) confirming its investment of R35 million to roll out the installation of more than 127 charging stations across South Africa, and automotive business council naamsa confirming it is hopeful of being able to announce by the end of this year the successful bidders for its tender worth “hundreds of millions of rand” for the installation of charging stations on major routes countrywide.

Mark Raine, co-CEO of MBSA and executive director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said there are currently about 350 public charging stations available in South Africa and this will grow towards 500 by the end of this year.


Raine said the rollout of MBSA’s investment in charging stations will be done in two phases.

Phase 1 involves the installation of 67 Mercedes-Benz EQ-branded charging stations across SA. “This investment is aimed at not only providing current customers with a reliable charging network but also instilling confidence in those considering the switch to electric vehicle ownership,” according to Raine.

Phase 2 will see the implementation of more than 60 additional charging stations, for a total of 127, strategically positioned in key areas.

“The first phase is already in progress and the first 70 of the 127 charging stations should be done by the end of this year or at the start of next year, with the remaining 50 probably installed in the first quarter going into the second quarter of 2024.

“We have got the funding and hardware ready. It is accommodating the conversations and contractual agreements with the individual locations, which takes a bit longer than we would want it to,” he said.


Locations for these charging stations include, the BT Ngebs Mall and Mayfair Hotel in Mthatha, Woodhill Estate and Country Club in Pretoria, the Da Vinci Hotel in Sandton, Champagne Castle in Drakensberg, Highwaymans in Pilgrims Rest, Courtyard Sandton and Silvermist Wine Estate.

Other locations, such as the Plettenberg Hotel, Wilderness Hotel, Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert and Karoo Junction Mall in Beaufort West, are but a few of the locations that are currently in the installation phase.

Raine stressed the investment being made by MBSA in charging stations does not necessarily mean the company will not participate and support Naamsa’s tender.

He said MBSA launched its charging station investment initiative “way before” Naamsa’s announcement of its charging station tender.

“The naamsa tender is what I call ‘future music’,” said Raine.

“We are open and I’ve always propagated that we want to have a widespread footprint on the electric vehicle story,” he said.

“We want to be also seen as the thought leader and pushing boundaries and pushing ahead, and the more different OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] invest and work together, the better it is for the South African automotive market, the automotive industry and for the consumer in South Africa.”


Raine said MBSA scouted the market about a year and a half to two years ago and selected GridCars to install its chargers (which come packaged with its vehicles) and to manage the charging cards, payment transactions and so on.

He said GridCars was also selected to assist and support MBSA in building up a charging network within its dealer network.

“Bit by bit, we entered into discussions with them over the last one-and-a-half years to see how Mercedes-Benz SA can further invest into the charging network – not that we see it as our core business or core responsibility because we also don’t run petrol stations,” he said.

Raine said this was to support and kick-start the initiative because of Mercedes-Benz’s passion as a brand for electric vehicles (EVs) and their potential in South Africa.

He said MBSA also wanted to avoid the EV discussions becoming stuck on “the chicken and the egg, meaning what comes first – the charging network or the cars?”.

All the investment in NEV charging infrastructure in South Africa to date has been installed or supported by the automotive industry.

The tender charging station project is being driven by Naamsa on behalf of locally based OEMs and vehicle importers and distributors, who decided to invest and procure charging infrastructure together as an industry.

Tender adjudication 

naamsa CEO Mikel Mabasa said on Tuesday the adjudication of the tender is “still work in progress”.

Mabasa said a lot of work has been done by naamsa’s technical team but it has not yet concluded its work because additional information is required from some of the bidders.

“We are hopeful that by the end of this year we will still be able to announce the successful bidders.

“These bidders will focus specifically on the national road network, so we are looking at the N1, N2 and N3 and so on, and we want them to do proper work in making sure they give us companies that will be able to help us to roll out the charging infrastructure,” he said.

The market

naamsa president Billy Tom said at SA Auto Week last month that NEV sales increased by 421.7% from 896 units in 2021 to 4 764 units in 2022, but remain negligible as a percentage of total new vehicle sales.

He added that NEV year-to-date sales to August, at 4 369 units, are 61.8% higher than the 2 700 units sold in the corresponding period in 2022.

Raine said Mercedes-Benz currently has seven EV models in SA and will definitely be launching more EVs into the domestic market soon – adding that it will definitely also continue to offer ICE vehicle models “going forward”.

He said it is “not concrete” when Mercedes-Benz will produce and sell its last ICE vehicle, either globally or in South Africa. “It’s somewhere between the early 2030s to mid-2030s … it’s still to be defined.”

Raine said what is important is what is happening in 2023, 2024 and 2025 and how to accelerate and gain traction with EV sales in South Africa.

“If we [the industry] don’t do so, the South African automotive market will be at the losing end of this,” he said.

Raine stressed South Africa needs to accelerate the transition to NEVs.