I’ve always been fascinated by electric cars, having never had the pleasure of experiencing a fully electric one as yet. I’ve only ever spent time with a hybrid and I enjoyed the experience because knowing that one saves on petrol but also has the option of petrol if the need arises, was quite the thrill. So when I was asked if I’d like to take up the electric vehicle challenge, I jumped at the chance. Not only because I would finally get a proper feel of the EV, life but also because I had a 130km odd trip from Johannesburg to Potchefstroom coming up.

First day I received the car, I was super excited. I was taken through the basics of how to charge since the car comes with two cables. One for home use. The other cable I never got to use because the charge port (much like a petrol pump) has its own charge cable. I also learnt only now (please don’t judge me) that there’s a prepaid card that is required in order to charge the car! I’d always naively thought you just get to a charge station and charge your car. I have no idea why the thought of paying never occurred to me! Don’t ask.

Anyway. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start by telling you the EV I was in. The stunning and quiet, BMW iX3. Unless you’re observant, nothing about this car says EV, except the closed grille, aerodynamic wheels and discrete iX3 badge. Very subtle styling I must add. Beyond that, this looks like your regular South Africa-built BMW X3. Even the interior is pretty much the same, bar the electric on-board system that informs you of your range and other info. I just couldn’t get used to the silence of this car when you start it. It actually made more noise when you powered it off – think powering off a Windows PC type sound, but subtle.

The iX3 is a full electric vehicle, powered by an 80kWh battery. Meaning you have to charge it. Like your cell phone. So imagine me, getting the car, running some errands and then forgetting to charge it once I got home later in the day. Fortunately, there’s a SASOL filling station with a Grid Cars charge point across the road from work. Grid Cars is the company that supplies and runs most of the country’s public EV chargers. Once I managed to get to work on the left-over juice, I charged and we were full in 2.5 hours. I was then ready to head off on my trip to Potchefstroom. The complete charge costs less than R300 at current electricity prices, depending on the car’s battery size and how much charge is left. You should aim to top off charge at home every night because home charging is slower.

When fully charged, the vehicle has a range of 440km between and 505km depending on your driving style. I must admit that apprehension did kick in at some point when I realised that I needed to conserve the power for my return trip since I could only charge upon my return. I therefore took it easy on the road. I later learnt that this is called “Range Anxiety”. Thank goodness I made it back in peace with about 80km to spare even. And no I wasn’t crawling on the road. Kept to the normal speed limit.

I was impressed with the overall performance of the iX3. It has pace when required to perform and literally is a “normal” car in every sense of the word. After my trip I realised that if one had an EV as your daily car, you’d have to plan your commute carefully since you can’t just pull up at any petrol station and fill up as one would with a petrol engine car. You’d need to know if there’s a charge point nearby and plan to have some time for an effective charge.

Fortunately, using a public charge point charges the car a lot faster than if you charge at home. Although charging overnight gave me some running around juice (to work and home), albeit not enough for say, a road trip. I never did manage to charge it fully from home.

Would I have an EV for my daily use? Yes. Would I rather use a petrol or diesel car for road trips though? Yes. Up until charging stations become the norm, I’d be too anxious to not own a petrol or diesel car as well. Also, I guess it depends on the EV in question; I understand the iX3’s bigger sibling, the IX, has a range of over 600km.





POWER: 210kW


0 – 100KM/H: 6.8 seconds

TRANSMISSION: 1-speed automatic


TOP SPEED: 180km/h


RANGE: 505km

CO2 e: 0 g/km


NATURAL RIVALS: Audi Q4 e-tron (not in Mzansi), Tesla Model Y (not in Mzansi)

PRICE RIVALS: BMW M440i Gran Coupe, Jaguar F-PACE P400, Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI


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