I have been mulling over on whether to buy a new car, but my current one if working fine, so there is no motivation to really buy a new one (other than having a new car). That said, the Johannesburg International Motor Show was a good opportunity to see what is coming out in the recent future; and I was specifically interested in the electric cars that may be coming to SA soon.
Of the cars, the most imminent is the Nissan Leaf, which is launching next month. But it is not a car that looks like it is worth just under half a million Rands. In looks to other similar priced cars - 3 Series BMW, Audi A4, C-Class Mercedes - and this just doesn't stack up. It does have all the gadgets; it is fairly comfortable and quite nice to drive (I took the short test drive on offer); and the promise of incredibly low fuel costs does provide some of the positives. It has a 24 KWh battery, and a range of approximately 195 KM. Based on current SA electricity price of approx R1 per KWh, this translates to an incredible 12c per KM of fuel costs - far less than any petrol/diesel equivalent. But with a general lack of charging stations (right now at least) and the high investment cost; it may be better off to get a highly economical diesel.
Mahindra was the other "low cost" vehicle manufacturer with an electric car on show - which looked a bit like a bulkier golf car to be honest. Interestingly none of the other Asian manufacturers had hybrids or electric cars on show; except for existing offers from Toyota (and Lexus) and Honda.
The feature car that all the papers were talking about was the BMW i8 due to land in SA end of next year/early 2015. It is a great looking car, but there wasn't much on performance or price (although the agent did comment that it was going to be at the R2 million mark). The BMW i3 is also expected to be launched next year, but at the reported price of R1 million, it is worth two Nissan Leafs, and looks worse!
The i8 was not the only hybrid/electric stunner on the floor. Honda's new NSX is absolutely beautiful, though no other details were available, and is still in a concept phase I think.
There were a few interesting, non electric cars to see also - Chevrolet's Camaro is a classic American Muscle Car, but no further details were available. Giniel de Villier's Dakar Rally Car, a Red Bull F1 car and the Lexus LFA (which Top Gear called best car in the world).