Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kayoola: Africa’s first Solar-Powered bus launched

Derived from the word Kayoola (which means mass carrier), Uganda's Kiira Motors unveiled Africa's first solar-powered electric bus earlier this month. Later, on February 16, 2016, President Yoweri Museveni took a ride to officially launch the Kayoola solar bus at Serena Hotel in Kampala.

Launching on Feb 16. Image from The Independent

Kayoola the 'mass carrier'. Image from Kiira Motors

Solar panels on top of the bus to charge the batteries.

According to the fact sheet by Kiira Motors, the 35-seater bus propulsion system is by electric motor powered by both battery pack and soar panels:
  • Top speed: 100km/h
  • Electric range: 80 km (50 miles)
  • Range extension by solar: Approx. 12 km

Powertrain specification

Of interest in this article is the powertrain, particularly those that are related to 'solar' although you can read  here if you are interested in everything else.

Source: Kiira Motors

It is obviously short ranged (80 km), which lead you to think that this can only be suitable for use in urban areas, rather than touring from one city to another. The solar panel could, however, extend the range depending on the weather and the good thing is that re-charging can be done anywhere without worrying that grid power may not be available.

How much?

The solar bus prototype costs $140,000 (RM584,000) to produce, but it is estimated cost around $58,000 (RM242,000) after mass production and is expected to create more than 7,000 jobs either directly or indirectly by the year 2018.

That's pretty expensive to begin with, don't you think?

The Green Mechanics' two cents: 

It's encouraging that Uganda took this bold move of producing its own vehicle to showcase its version of solar-powered electric vehicle (EV). Manufacturing a vehicle that can be mass-produced and able to penetrate the saturated market is already complicated enough let alone one that is fitted with unproven fuel source. For this, they must be given credit.

Certainly Malaysia which has a per capita GDP of more than 12 times that of Uganda's can do the same:

Malaysia Uganda
Land area : 329,847 km sq 241,038 km sq
Population (2015) : 30.5 million 37 million 
GDP per capita (2015) : US$26,600 US$2,100
Electricity -Total installed capacity : 28.53 mil kW 0.71 mil kW
Electricity derived from:
a) Fosil : 87.6%  (2012) 21%  (2011)
b) Hydro : 11.6%  (2012) 59.9% (2014)
c) Other Renewable Energy : 0.8%  (2012) 19.2% (2014)

Source: The World Factbook at Central Intelligence Agency, CIA (US) which is published online.

We don't have to take the route taken by Uganda. We already have electric bus of our own in Melaka and Selangor. A little tweaking without compromising the safety and quality of the vehicle can pretty much be done to install solar panels to charge the batteries.

Building a whole new bus from ground up may backfire as a lot of effort will be required to prove its road worthiness, and brand acceptance in the competitive the market.

Good one from Uganda, this is!

References: Kiira Motor, CNN

No comments: