Editor's Note

All aboard

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Welcome to another edition of South Africa’s favourite business-to-business monthly as we celebrate Transport Month, with a plethora of changes facing the way people approach mobility and propulsion.

Much has been made of the evolution of the electric car and its greener environmental footprint. However, when you look closer, there is very little green in terms of how electric cars are manufactured, transported or disposed of. The batteries from electric cars are large and difficult to recycle, which will be a problem that future generations will be left to solve, as numbers spiral in more ‘developed’ countries.

In a South African context, unless you have your own solar panel at home, chances are, you’re using coal power to charge it up at night through the national grid. You might as well save the extra money you pay to go electric and buy a modern small-engine car that consumes frugal amounts of fuel.

Together with a poor range and limited infrastructure locally, the pickup of electric cars is still relatively slow in the Southern Hemisphere. Countries like South Africa and Australia, with large open spaces and relatively low levels of heavy industry, don’t have the same pollution issues as pint-sized Europe. They also have more renewable energy on tap already to power the vehicles.

We can’t compare apples with lemons. Regulations that work in Europe and progressive California, for example, might not work in South Africa, and we are likely to be at least 20 years behind them in the mass rollout of non-fossil fuel cars and autonomous driving.

Autonomous driving can only work on modern highways that have clearly marked lanes without potholes, un-roadworthy trucks and erratic driving. Autonomous driving arguably reduces your freedom of movement and would limit you to major roads, which might take some of the romance out of scenic road trips through quaint country roads.

World Environment Day was also celebrated recently and I took that opportunity to follow the annual Peninsula Paddle from Muizenberg to Milnerton, raising awareness for the dire state of our important urban rivers and ecosystems. It was saddening to see just how dirty and polluted they are. Watch out for the full story in the November edition of Leadership magazine.

Finally, everybody at Leadership magazine would like to send our condolences to the family of the Environmental Affairs Minister, Bomo Edna Edith Molewa, who passed away recently. May she rest in peace.

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