Volkswagen South Africa says it aims to start selling fully electric vehicles locally from 2022.

The Wolfsburg-based firm’s local arm has kicked off a three-phase approach it says will pave the way for the inclusion of electric vehicles in its future product portfolio.

The first phase will see a handful of e-Golf vehicles being tested by select publications, with CAR magazine running an example in its long-term fleet for six months. Certain dealers as well as VW employees will also spend time with the electric Golf model as VW SA seeks to “gain valuable consumer insights” into the experiences of driving and living with an electric vehicle in SA.

“The e-Golf pilot project seeks to drive customer awareness and education regarding electric vehicles,” VW said, adding some e-Golf units would also be used as shuttles and courtesy cars for Volkswagen customers.

Mike Glendinning, sales and marketing director for Volkswagen Group SA, added VW wanted to "democratise electric mobility".

"With the help of our dealers, we want to get as many South Africans as possible to drive and experience an electric vehicle as this is the future of our brand,” Glendinning said.

VW says the second phase of the project will see new ID3 vehicles added to the fleet from 2021. Finally, in 2022, the first fully electric Volkswagen vehicles will become available for sale to customers in SA.

We must point out neither the e-Golf nor the ID3 will be offered for sale in South Africa, instead being used (in VW SA’s words) “solely for the purposes of ensuring as many South Africans as possible get to experience life with an electric vehicle”.