The Electric Vehicle Industry Association (EVIA), a group that seeks to promote the many benefits of electric vehicles, announced its formation at an event in Sandton. 

The lobby group is made up of BMW SA, Gridcars, Nissan SA, the SA National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and uYilo – part of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). EVIA is also endorsed by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

The group has many aims, but chief among them is working with government to grow the electric vehicle (EV) industry in the country. It hopes that this will, in turn, increase “investor confidence in the sector” and reduce emissions enough to meet the CoP 21 – CMP 11 conditions.

On EVIA’s to-do list is helping government on the dti’s Industrial Policy Action Plan and the Department of Transport’s draft green transport strategy.

It has apparently already begun working with TIA’s uYilo programme to standardise charging infrastructure in the country for both fully electric and hybrid vehicles. The hope is that both of these types of vehicles can charge at the same location.

“We’ve learned the lessons from the mobile phone and laptop sector and will avoid the frustrating range of incompatible chargers that would hamper the uptake of EVs,” says TIA chief executive Barlow Manilal.

EVIA and the dti are also receiving help from the SA Low Carbon Transport project of the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to develop EV technology with appropriate policies and incentives.

For anyone interested in green energy and low-emission transport options, this seems like good news. Clearly, there’s a lot of money and influence being thrown around by government agencies and big companies in the hopes of getting the initiative off the ground and making proper inroads toward greening the transport sector.

As with anything coming from government (even with big corporate backing), we’ll need to wait and see if anything good actually comes of it. Before we get too excited, we’ll need to see it evolve from mere words into something worthwhile.

Don’t hold your breath, but do watch this space.