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Uganda’s first electric car is plugged in, ready to go

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Kiira EV on road test in Makerere University campus as students cheer the new innovation. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE. 

By Flavia Lanyero

Posted  Wednesday, November 2   2011 at  00:00
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Kampala

“The car is ready,” exclaimed Mr Paul Isaac Musasizi, the Project Manager of the Vehicle Design Mission at Makerere University, which has produced Uganda’s first electric car.

The Kiira EV was yesterday tested for road and drive performance, ability to climb steep areas and ability to pick up speed, among other parameters. “The vehicle can pick speed very fast, the motor stands strong, the reverse is perfect, it properly climbed a 55 degrees incline, the performance is good,” Mr Musasizi said after driving the vehicle for 4km reaching a top speed of 65km/hr.

More adjustments, however, still need to be done when the car is gaining speed as it tends to jerk. More power also needs to be added to the steering wheel and a horn installed for the vehicle to be fit.

The making of Kiira EV started in August 2009 with a handful of students at the College of Engineering Art and Design, formerly the Faculty of Technology.

“It was not easy; all we had was faith and no money but luckily in December 2009, President Museveni gave us a grant and we immediately started the work. Getting people onto the project was not easy either,” said Mr Musasizi. They eventually had a team of 25. Bureaucracy to buy certain parts of the vehicle was another challenge the students faced and it delayed the making of the vehicle.

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The success of the car draws a lot of lessons both for the University and country, according to principal investigator of the Project, Prof. Sandy Tickodri-Togboa.
“Because the entire staff of a faculty is not often involved in such projects, it would help if all academicians got involved. This will improve methods of training at the University so that we are able to produce high caliber graduates,” he said.
Kiira EV is a two-seater electric vehicle. Its battery system consists of lithium-ion batteries, its maximum speed is 200km/hr and needs a recharge after running 80km.

Although some components of the car like the steering wheel and other minor accessories were imported from manufacturers outside Uganda, most parts of the car including the core body and combustion system were designed and built locally.

A thrilled Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba said: “A breed of youngsters with a nerve for technological inventions and innovations has been assembled.” As the world targets reducing carbon emissions students and faculty at Makerere University are keen to show they are up to speed.

flanyero@ug.nationmedia.com