BLOK: DRIVING THE ECOMOBILITY AGENDA
06 MARCH 2017
SummaryFollowing the the recent introduction of Blade; an urban intervention by Blok to allow the community to become more environmentally friendly; the urban property developer, was recently sponsored by BMW with the BMW i3 in recognition of the importance that the developer places on ecomobility with the aim to encourage and bring ecomobility closer to society.
All over the world, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular as more and more drivers recognise their contribution to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that threaten the environment. In fact, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that sales of electric vehicles will hit the 41 million mark by 2040.
In South Africa, BMW i and 360° Electric Product Manager Alan Boyd estimates that 400 EVs have been sold since they were launched in the country in 2013 and says that 46 electric charging stations have been installed to date in places such as the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront in Cape Town and the Melrose Arch Precinct in Johannesburg.
Cape Town-based urban property developer, Blok, a strong supporter of ecomobility (travel through safe, affordable, accessible, environmentally friendly and integrated transport modes) was recently given use of a BMW i3 – a five-door urban electric car. The car sponsorship by BMW is in recognition of the importance that Blok places on ecomobility together with a shared drive to bring ecomobility closer to the developer's urban clients. It gives the Blok network of current and future buyers a chance to drive in an EV, either en route to see a future home, or to take possession of one.
The company will also be installing charging stations in their developments, with further plans in place to participate in seeing one come to fruition within a high street environment.
Blok’s Managing Director and Co-founder, Jacques van Embden, who was a panelist at the 2015 EcoMobility World Festival in Johannesburg, shares: “We have seen how countries around the globe have embraced EVs as an extension of ecomobility and want South Africans to join in on reducing our carbon footprint.”
He continues: “With 42% of South Africa’s electricity being derived from renewable energy sources, and this percentage set to grow in line with the National Development Plan, we are positive that EVs can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pollution.” A study carried out by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defence Council estimates that, with electric grids relying more on renewable energy by 2050, EVs could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1030 million metric tons. The study also revealed that with widespread vehicle electrification, carbon pollution can be reduced by 430 million metric tons annually - equivalent to the emissions from 80 million conventional cars.
“Furthermore,” says van Embden, “contrary to misconceptions amongst motorists, EVs deliver well both in terms of performance and power which makes one wonder why there aren't more on the road.”
Countries that are leading the EV revolution include Norway, the United States and Japan. Norway has emerged as the world’s largest electric car market with over 11% of market share, due largely to supportive government policies. Incentives that encourage Norwegian drivers to choose electric cars over conventional alternatives include free public charging stations as well as toll-free roads, ferries and the ability of electric car drivers to use bus lanes. What’s more, as conventional vehicles can be relatively expensive in Norway due to the country’s high tax regime, EV owners are exempt from paying any tax until 2018.
In Japan, there are more electric car charge points than petrol stations. The development of the charging infrastructure has been cited as an important contributor to the continued market growth of EVs in the country. While the majority of charging stations are privately owned, a charging station version of Airbnb, called PlugShare, is allowing private owners to share these with other drivers. In addition, apps like ChargeNow, which use GPS to locate the nearest public charging station, are also being developed to allay fears of potential EV owners of being stranded with a flat battery.
Over 30% of EV sales in the United States have been attributed to the government’s federal income tax credit offfering. Added to this, the Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a strategy to enable the country to become the first nation in the world to produce EVs that are as affordable and convenient as today’s petrol powered vehicles by 2022. The DOE has also implemented a Workplace Charging Challenge, which calls on employers to help develop the nation’s charging infrastructure.
“We would like to see both the City of Cape Town and South African government implementing initiatives and infrastructure that will empower more people to purchase EVs and thereby encourage ecomobility. With innovations like EVs becoming more mainstream, the future of ecomobility seems nearer than ever,” concludes van Embden.
Blok is an urban property developer that operates in Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard and CBD. Thoughtfully designed spaces echo their design ethos of “four walls make an apartment, but not necessarily a home”; instead Blok has chosen to deliver apartments with considered spaces such as home offices, fireplaces, daybeds and bars; in the aim of building modern urban homes that are thoughtfully designed.
Beyond the front door, Blok has undertaken to make a lasting and meaningful contribution to the neighbourhoods in which it develops. By getting involved in Crime ‘n Grime initiatives as well as upliftment projects that benefit not only Blok owners, but their neighbours.
With sales to date of R925m+, as well as successful urban intervention projects including the installation of the Blade bicycle parking system on the Sea Point Promenade and Thornhill Park revamp in Greenpoint opposite their SEVENONT development, amongst others; Blok is no longer the newcomer in the property scene, but a serious contender that is making waves with their urban focus and community ethos.
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