The Ugandan company Kiira Motors recently showed off what it claims to be the first solar-powered bus in Africa — the Kayoola prototype solar-electric bus — in the capital city of Kampala, according to recent reports.
The prototype utilizes two batteries — one of which can be charged by the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels located on the roof — to provide a range of over 80 kilometers (50 miles). The more that these panels are able to recharge the connected battery while in use (depending on the weather primarily), the greater the range will be above the 80 kilometers mark, of course.
The company is the result of a project at Uganda’s Makerere University (now a shareholder), and is currently looking for backers in order to mass manufacture the prototype. The company has reportedly been the recipient of some government money to date.
BBC News provides some specifics:
Kiira Motors’ chief executive Paul Isaac Musasizi told BBC News that he had been “humbled” by the large and positive reaction to the test drive. People have been excited by the idea that Uganda is able to produce the concept vehicle, or prototype, and Mr Musasizi said he wanted it to help the country “champion the automotive, engineering and manufacturing industries” in the region.
He also hopes that it will generate employment, predicting that by 2018, more than 7,000 people could be directly and indirectly employed in the making of the Kayoola. But backing from international companies, which make vehicle parts, is essential for the project to take off. The vision is that by 2039 the company will be able to manufacture all the parts and assemble the vehicle in Uganda.
As one can probably guess, judging by the range involved, the prototype — a 35-seater — is intended for use in urban areas, rather than as an inter-city bus. The motivation for using solar panels is seemingly to lower fuel costs, and also to increase independence from the (not always reliable) grid.
The bus is expected to run ~$58,000 if mass produced — which is a competitive price for the market, according to Mr Musasizi.
Image Credit: Kiira Motors