Western Cape disaster management members with Porsche firefighter brigade trainers and technicians of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
Western Cape disaster management members with Porsche firefighter brigade trainers and technicians of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team

The transition to a green economy in South Africa is gaining more momentum with a commitment recently from President Cyril Ramaphosa in the 2023 State of the Nation Address to a R1,5 trillion investment over the next five years through the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.

New focus areas include renewable energy, green hydrogen, electric vehicles and the emergence of fuel cells. Social partners in South Africa are driving more aggressively for a better infrastructure for Electric Vehicles to follow global trends. 

Jakkie Olivier, Chief Executive Officer of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) says that green energy and electric vehicles are fast becoming part of our world, and both are developments the RMI is firmly keeping on its radar. “South Africa, like many other developing countries, is seeing an increase in the sale of hybrid vehicles before noteworthy volumes of full EVs are recorded,” says Olivier.

In 2022, there were for example 14 makes and 42 types of electric and hybrid vehicles available to the South African motorist. Taking advantage of the recent Formula E, held in Cape Town on 25 February, the RMI co-ordinated a training intervention on 22nd and 23rd February very aptly named the ‘firefighter’s challenges around e-mobility’.

In keeping with its commitment to sustainability, the training was conducted by Porsche AG in Germany as part of Porsche’s “Join the Porsche Ride” initiatives which are being rolled out globally. These initiatives support projects that have a positive impact on social interaction and quality of life and are closely aligned to, and address the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A group of 40 participants from the Western Cape Disaster Management departments as well as some senior RMI Executives and members of a number of its different constituent associations including the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) and the South African Motor body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA) received training by experts from the Porsche fire brigade in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.

The 4 training sessions formed part of the safety preparations for the City of Cape Town’s firefighters at the E Prix. “Electric vehicles and related new technology bring about unique emergency response strategies and it is imperative for the Province’s EMS and firefighting staff to get the necessary training and exposure to these new technologies and specific response and rescue strategies,” says Western Cape Provincial Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning spokesperson, Wouter Kriel.

Louis van Huyssteen, RMI National Director Training says equally within the RMI environment, which represents more than 8 700 member businesses, this training was vital as many of the associations have already started to see a rise in the number of hybrid cars needing servicing or repairs and requests through SAPRA members for the introduction of charging stations at filling stations. “It was a great experience to join the ‘Porsche Ride’ in Cape Town and learn more about the fundamental technical specifications of electrical vehicles; how to safely apply the high voltage disconnection procedures to common electrical vehicles and learn different tactics on how to extinguish vehicle high voltage battery fires.”