SA electric-vehicle completes first recorded cross-country quest

A team led by motoring journalists Justus Visagie and Ernest Page has set a new record for South African cross-country travel by a battery-electric vehicle, in an iconic race against the clock between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Data gathered by vehicle-tracking and fleet-intelligence organisation Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron, has confirmed the record set during the attempt, which has elevated what is possible using mobility technology.

Netstar was the tracking and timing partner for the initiative, which set out to establish a new record time for driving an electric vehicle between South Africa’s two major cities.

At 7pm on June 28, 2022, the team set out from BMW Cape Town City on Herzog Boulevard, and arrived at BMW Johannesburg City in Braamfontein 20H17m10s later – a new record for a battery-electric vehicle.

The team achieved a total driving time of 14h56m21s for the journey, which they completed in seven legs, driving a BMW iX battery-electric vehicle. The vehicle maintained an average speed of 94km/h, and Netstar confirmed that 1 404km were driven.

The team stopped to charge on six occasions, at charging stations in Worcester, Laingsburg, Beaufort West, Richmond, Colesberg and Bloemfontein. In total, the vehicle spent 5h33m19s replenishing its battery charge at the charging stations.

“This journey has provided interesting insights for long-distance, electric-vehicle travel in South Africa,” says Netstar Executive: Sales Nicky Sheridan. “Justus, Ernest and the team have shown what current electric vehicles can achieve – even on the ‘up journey’ from the coast to 1 700m altitude in Johannesburg in the middle of winter.

“Netstar tracking and data science was used to gather insights throughout the attempt, and we are really proud to be part of this initiative,” says Sheridan.  “Netstar trackers are easily installed in electric vehicles, and it’s a perfect fit. Although we were using basic functionality for this trip,  businesses will be able to benefit from ever more advanced tracking technology to optimise route planning and fleet management as electric-vehicle technology is adopted.”

Sheridan says as EV technology and road infrastructure for supporting the vehicles evolve, so South African car buyers will start to consider their electric vehicle options when it came to buying their next new car.

“The journey from Cape Town to Joburg is the benchmark long road trip that any South African is likely to make,” says Sheridan. “The data confirms that it is now possible to complete that journey in around 20 hours, using battery-electric technology, even allowing for stops, recharging and driver changes.”