The future of electric cars in Uganda

Friday August 18 2017

The Kayoola bus which uses solar energy is an

The Kayoola bus which uses solar energy is an attempt at making an electric car in Uganda. FILE PHOTO. 

By Ephraim Kasozi

When Kiira Motors Corporation unveiled the electric car concept, many people never warmed up to the idea or would not predict the turn of events in the elite car market manufacturing world, especially in Europe and Asia.
In fact many laughed it off, wondering how a country that is prone to massive load shedding would pursue such an ambitious project.

However, a few years down the lane, the message is now clear with renowned carmakers such as Volvo signalling an end to internal combustion engines.
Volvo, will beginning 2019 produce electric or hybrid cars in a move that seeks to make a 360° turn away from combustion engines.
Such is the first-paced world of technology were futuristic thinking will make large car manufacturers outlive competition.

For instance, Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, has been grossing over the idea of electric car manufacturing for more than a decade with a target of realising more than a million sales by 2025.
This is a direct reflection of where the auto industry is headed with car manufacturers such as Tesla already announcing that they will soon make deliveries for the Model 3 car for mass consumption.
According to Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, the company is on track to make 20,000 Model 3 cars a month by December.

Tesla, which currently is not profiting from the innovation, has a stock market value of $58b, nearly one-quarter higher than that of Ford.
The trend says a lot about the future of fossil fuels and equally poses the same question for the future of combustion engines, particularly in Uganda and Africa in general.

Getting on the bandwagon
Paul Isaac Musasizi is the chief executive officer of Kiira Motors Corporation and perhaps he is better placed to talk about electric cars having played a critical role in building Uganda’s first solar energy car - Kayoola Solar Bus.

Musasizi offers interesting insights with a critical belief that electric public mobility technology will not only foster growth but will be a solution to the increasing rate of pollution resulting from the import of third rated cars from developed countries.

Eighty five per cent of cars in Uganda, according to Musasizi, are more than 15 years old and it is not surprising that these end-of-life automobiles contribute to the decline in national fuel efficiency.
They also have a negative impact on carbon emission that indicates an increase of 13.7L/100km and 0.5kg/km in 2014 respectively.

He also observes that with the import value of vehicles and vehicle parts rising from $89.7m in 2000 to $550m in 2015, the industry requires key reforms aimed at cultivating domestic value addition and strategic focus on green mobility, especially for urban mass transportation.

His views are shared by Royal Dutch Shell chief executive officer Ben Van Beurden, who recently noted that the whole move to electrify mobility in Europe, China and the US will protect the environment and ensure sustainable development for the present and future generations.
In UK, it has already been announced that the government will ban the sale of diesel - and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040.

This was announced two weeks after France made a similar announcement that seeks to reduce air pollution and meet targets to keep global warming below 2° (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Kiira Motors Corporation, the pioneers of clean energy mobility technologies in Uganda and Africa, last year won the prestigious Frost and Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. Each year, Frost and Sullivan presents this award to a company that demonstrates the ability to understand and leverage global mega trends, integrating this vision into processes to achieve strategic excellence.
According to Frost and Sullivan, Kiira Motors’ vision extends far beyond that of standard vehicle manufacturing processes to create sustainable solutions that “provide massive opportunity for vehicle development and commercialisation in a country that is lagging behind in global automotive indices”.
The focus on developing sustainable electric, hybrid, and solar vehicles will allow Kiira Motors to capture an uncontested market space, given that many countries on the African markets are yet to fully adopt the electric car concept, according to Ziyaad Hanware, the Frost and Sullivan research analyst.


In the lead:
Tesla is currently leading in the manufacture of both electric and hybrid cars. It established the luxury electric car market and placed an extraordinary number of supercharging stations in place throughout US.

Volvo: Starting in 2019, every new model the Swedish automaker, Volvo, releases will run at least in part on electric power. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo will roll out five electric models, along with plug-in hybrids and mild hybrids. The company isn’t killing the gasoline engine yet, but it’s on its way. It takes about five to seven years to develop a new model car.

Electric vehicles are not necessarily expensive. There are many options of vehicles with incentives that place the vehicles in line with, or even better than a gas driven car. Electricity prices are far less volatile and power companies have some considerable regulations unlike petroleum companies and vendors.

History of electric cars
The invention of the first model electric car is attributed to various people. In 1828, Ányos Jedlik, a Hungarian created a small model car powered by a motor. In 1834, Vermont blacksmith Thomas Davenport built a similar contraption that operated on a short, circular, electrified track. In 1834, Sibrandus Stratingh of the Netherlands and Christopher Becker created a small-scale electrical car, powered by non-rechargeable cells.