January 14, 2012
A group of Ugandan students from Makerere University's College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology have built Uganda's first electric car (the Kiira EV) in about 30 months. The car was successfully test driven on November 1, 2011 at the Makerere University. It still is a prototype, but most parts of the two-seater were designed and built in Uganda: the core body, combustion system, etc. The car project called VDP (Vehicle Design Project) is part of initiatives funded and supported by the President of Uganda.
The car's batteries have about 80 km autonomy and electricity is the only source of power used to run the Kiira EV (making it a noiseless car). More vehicles should be manufactured, including a 7-seater and a 30-seater van with about 200 km autonomy thanks to a solar panel.
The car's design was conducted by a brilliant automotive designer - Jonathan Kasumba. Indeed, it is important for such projects to be partly centered on the design process of the car, which is essential in any industrial design especially if the car must be mass-produced.
The prototype cost the college about $35,000 to assemble, although it is believed that the cost can be brought down to $15,000.
The whole team that worked on the project has at least proven that Africans can easily embark in very difficult projects and be successful. It shows, once again, that Africans have talent and genius; and that a full-fledged eco-friendly car industry in Africa is most likely looming ahead.