14 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — While the buzz around electric cars seems to be gaining momentum, we might take few moments to discuss on whether or not Nigeria is ready for this reinvigorated car technology craze.
Automakers like Chevrolet and the Tesla Model 3 presently claim to deliver more electric models with longer range and lower prices at the moment.
The world, especially China is committed to curbing air pollution by aiming to be all-electric by 2040 or sooner.
However, experts have identified some challenges, including that which is particularly related to Nigeria: where will electric cars be charged?
As much as the developing world such as China and developed European countries have access to electricity and can recharge electric cars, Nigeria is still grappling with the challenge of stable electricity supply posing an equal challenge to the recharging of electric cars.
Countries like China and the Netherlands and the state of California, have thousands of public charging outlets. Buyers of Tesla’s luxury models have access to a company-funded Supercharger network.
the question then becomes how many public charging outlets does Nigeria have or can Nigeria put in place within any given time-frame? There lies the challenge for electric car enthusiasts in the Nigerian car market.
It’s also a barrier for the millions of people who do not have a garage to plug in their cars overnight.
“Do we have what we need? The answer at the moment is, ‘No,'” says Graham Evans, an analyst with IHS Markit.
According to him, the uneven distribution or non-availability of chargers worries many potential electric vehicle owners. It is one reason electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of cars on the road.
“You have to prove to the consumer that they can drive across the country, even though they probably won’t,” says Pasquale Romano, the CEO of ChargePoint, one of the largest charging station providers in North America and Europe.
Romano says there is no exact ratio of the number of chargers needed per car. But he says workplaces should have around 2.5 chargers for every employee and retail stores need one for every 20 electric cars. Highways need one every 50 to 75 miles, he says. That suggests a lot of gaps still need to be filled.
Outside Nigeria, automakers and governments are pushing to provide charging places for their citizens. These are countries already tilting towards that dream. What step is Nigeria taking aside being merely excited about the idea of electric cars?
The number of publicly available, global charging spots grew 72 percent to more than 322,000 last year, the International Energy Agency said. Navigant Research expects that to grow to more than 2.2 million by 2026; more than one-third of those will be in China.
Tesla Inc. — which figured out years ago that people wouldn’t buy its cars without roadside charging — is doubling its global network of Supercharger stations to 10,000 this year. BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford are building 400 fast-charging stations in Europe. Volkswagen is building hundreds of stations across the U.S. as part of its settlement for selling polluting diesel engines. Even oil-rich Dubai, which just got its first Tesla showroom, has more than 50 locations to charge electric cars.
What is the government and automakers based in Nigeria doing about preparing for this landmark shift for Nigeria?
The above efforts by these automobile companies in other countries are obviously lacking in Nigeria.
Obviously, the government has other concerns and electric cars are certainly not one of them.
However, owing to the ‘misplaced’ excitement by Nigerians about the electric cars, the weight could as well be passed on to automobile companies and interested deep pocketed investors to, maybe, invest in the business whenever Nigeria is ready for it.
However, this question remains relevant- when will Nigeria be ready for electric cars?