It is not the first time that innovators from the west have come up with a solution to solve an African problem and to add to that list, is an invention by scientists from the Technical University of Munich. The scientists have developed an electric vehicle that they claim is built for Africa. The car, cleverly named aCar, is a four-wheel drive, two passenger pickup that runs on a 20kWh battery.
The vehicle is supposedly intended for rural Africa where “access to a vehicle of any kind is hardly a given.” According to the Technical University of Munich, African farmers are moving from their lands in rural Africa to urban cities because they have no access to vehicles and thus no access to “medical care, education or to political processes.” The university goes ahead and claims that they (the farmers) are “dependent on transport contractors who bring their products to the next city for sale in order to make a living” and as a result, we have rural-urban migration.
Prof. Markus Lienkamp, head of the TUM Chair of Automotive Technology says, “With the aCar, we have developed a mobility concept that can solve these problems.” The 20 kWh battery capacity gives the vehicle an electric range of 80 kilometres. The battery can be charged from an ordinary 220-volt household wall socket within 7 hours but it is also fitted with Solar panels on the roof to keep the car powered throughout the day.
The vehicle is primarily intended for transporting passengers and cargo, with a total load capacity of one tonne. The car is also modular, as the cargo bed can be transformed into a passenger area, mobile clinic, or water treatment station.
The whole idea sounds noble until you realize that the electric vehicle is meant for rural Africa. The scientists expect a farmer to plug in their car, that they bought for $12000 (Ksh 1.2M), for 7 straight hours for it to fully charge and then drive it for a distance of 80Km before they need to charge it again. My thought is, this car was probably designed by people who have only seen Africa in George of the Jungle, proper research on the target market was not well done.
The car does not have doors, neither does it have windows, so it doesn’t rain in Africa huh? The size of the car is also small both in length and width. No offence to the scientists over at the Technical University of Munich but this car has a more promising life as a golf cart than a 4*4 off-road vehicle for “rural Africa”.
I would go on and on with my rant but TechCabal summed it all up really well:
Thank you, masters. I, who lives in rural Africa, will now buy your $12000 car for $12000, plug it into my 220v wall socket for 7 hours (in my house in rural Africa), and drive it to see my friend, Mutumbu, before we go hunting down the lions that mauled our cows. I hope they are not more than 80 km away, though, but if they are, doxology.