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Local assembly plans for Enviro Automotive’s electric panel van and bakkie

Enviro Automotive, the importer and distributor of DFSK’s battery-electric vehicles, announced local production plans to reduce its products’ acquisition cost and make transport operators’ investments in commercial electric vehicles (CEVs) more affordable and sustainable.

DFSK (Dongfeng Sokon Automobile), a leading vehicle manufacturer in China, extended its popular C-Series delivery vehicle range in 2007 with battery-electric panel vans and bakkies. Both the EC35 panel van and EC31 one-tonne bakkie soon became very popular in the last-mile delivery environment in the markets where they were sold.

“The battery-electric EC-Series has an operating cost of only 25 cents per kilometre, a fraction of its rivals featuring internal combustion engines,” says Gideon Wolvaardt, Managing Director of Enviro Automotive. “It also offers reduced maintenance costs because of fewer moving parts and reduces your carbon footprint, which lately, has become an important social- and community-related concern.”

After extensive research into the CEV market, Enviro Automotive was set up to import affordable electric vehicles and to make transport operators’ investments in electric vehicles a sustainable long-term solution. One of the first business scenarios Enviro Automotive investigated was to determine the feasibility of a local assembly programme to create additional value for its customers.

“We have years of experience in the renewable energy market, which influenced our decision to start our local assembly programme with the production of battery packs for electric vehicles. This will reduce the acquisition cost of our vehicles and strengthen our competitive position in the fast-growing local electric vehicle market,” says Gawie Brink, Technical Director of Enviro Automotive and founder of Solar Europe.

Brink explains that Solar Europe has been operating in South Africa since 2019 and has learnt valuable lessons in the renewable energy market. “Our investigation into renewable energy and to save on delivery costs led us to conduct research into battery-electric light- and heavy commercial vehicles, which saw the formation of Enviro Automotive and the signing of distribution agreements with Chinese manufacturers DFSK and Dayun.”

Enviro Automotive’s first DFSK test units, customised for harsh African conditions, arrived in the country in June 2022. Since then, they have been on trial at various transport operations to collate data about the vehicles’ performance in the local delivery environment.

“The decision to start our local assembly programme with battery packs originates from our expert knowledge and high-tech equipment available at Solar Europe. We have fully equipped workshops and production lines that will now be shared with Enviro Automotive. We also have technicians trained in mechanics and electronics, an excellent skillset in the growing electric vehicle market,” says Brink.

Brink clarifies that the production of battery packs will not only be for their vehicles, but they will also assist other vehicle manufacturers offering EV products locally to supply and maintain their battery packs. “We predict phenomenal growth in the CEV market in the near future, which will bring several new opportunities such as infrastructure development, job creation and community upliftment as more players compete for market share in the green mobility space.”

Wolvaardt and Brink, the co-founders of Enviro Automotive, are optimistic about transport operators’ positive feedback to convert to electric vehicles to save costs and to be good corporate citizens concerned about the environment and the communities in which they operate.

“We have received great interest in our EC-Series over the last couple of months, confirming our initial market research that transport operators involved in last-mile deliveries want a cheaper and more sustainable solution for their businesses. Our decision to invest in a local assembly operation indicates our confidence in the growing CEV market,” concludes Wolvaardt.

More information about Enviro Automotive’s local assembly programme will be announced at the opening of the company’s new dealership at its head office in Pretoria.

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