First electric minibus taxi in South Africa

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To advance the development of e-mobility at the local level, GoMetro, a global mobility management technology company headquartered in Cape Town, has assembled a project team of innovative companies and researchers to launch a demonstrator project to test the first electric minibus in South Africa. conditions by January 2023.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are heralded as a silver bullet to decarbonize the transportation sector globally. The development of low-carbon transport in cities is part of the global agenda to delay climate change and is linked to many United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While electric vehicle sales have increased dramatically in the global North and many global automakers plan to stop production of combustion engines as early as 2030, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the transition to electric vehicles continues to grow. be extremely slow. This research project aims to accelerate this transition towards cleaner and greener mobility.

The project team, consisting of GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics and various entities of the University of Stellenbosch (SU) Faculty of Engineering, as well as the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) of the SU, will carry out rigorous and thorough tests. in and around the city of Stellenbosch, as well as putting the electrification of the minibus taxi sector on the national agenda by means of an educational roadshow in the nine provinces during the year 2023.

A number of viable electric minibus taxi models from various markets have been identified, the first of which will hit South African shores by the end of the year. The model’s acceptance and practicality will be extensively tested with taxi owners and drivers, to identify the use cases and conditions under which an electric taxi would make the most sense.

“Taxi drivers and owners are very interested and intrigued by the idea of ​​an electric minibus taxi, and constantly ask us when the first electric minibus taxi will arrive on our shores,” says Justin Coetzee, CEO of GoMetro. “We have established valuable relationships with a large number of taxi associations, and the ever-increasing price of fuel is a major concern for owners, drivers and passengers, as there does not appear to be any relief in sight. The industry has long recognized that business as usual will not be enough – and that change is needed, especially after the effects of Covid-19.”

Public Transport AG

The aim of testing different models over the next few months is to establish which vehicle will be best suited to the South African public transport industry, and which spectrum of operations is conducive to the vehicles’ self-driving capabilities. In addition to testing the vehicle itself, the project team wants to engage with the automotive sector and policy makers to encourage proactive discussions with government around reducing duties and promoting the adoption of electric vehicles. in the transport sector.

“As MiX Telematics is at the forefront of innovation and leveraging new technologies to improve fleet operations and efficiency, we are very pleased to be part of this pioneering initiative. We have seen adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles are increasing exponentially in Europe, and so I look forward to learning how we can support these solutions in the South African context,” says Catherine Lewis, Executive Vice President of Technology at MiX Telematics.

Professor Thinus Booysen, Research Chair in Internet of Things at the University of Stellenbosch, will lead the team of testing experts. “The informal taxi sector needs to transform into electric vehicles, but little is known about their energy needs. This unknown is overshadowed by our energy shortage and dependence on coal on the electricity supply side. This project collaborative will ensure that we are prepared and carefully manage this exciting transition,” says Booysen.The electric minibus taxi will be showcased on the University of Stellenbosch campus.

Future electrification of transport

According to Dr. Bernard Bekker, Associate Director of the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University, the future electrification of the transport section in South Africa poses significant technical and regulatory challenges related integrating electric transmission into our existing grid infrastructure. These challenges are in many ways unique to South Africa, where minibus taxis will potentially represent a much larger proportion of the future electric fleet than, say, Europe or the United States. “The availability of an actual electric minibus taxi to inform our research activities will provide very valuable information to address these challenges.”

“The minibus taxi is ubiquitous across the South African landscape, moving millions of people over the years, helping to keep South Africa working – sadly in an environmentally unsustainable way. ACDC Dynamics is proud to be part of the change that will be brought to this industry as it embraces electric/battery taxis through our capabilities to provide battery charging networks across the country,” said Mario Maio, Founder and Managing Director from ACDC Dynamics.

“HSW is passionate about local manufacturing. The Western Cape has all the technical skills and resources to set up manufacturing facilities to support such an initiative. There are already electronics manufacturers who have world-class capabilities in electronics manufacturing such as Barracuda Holdings, which is one of HSW’s major customers, as proof that this type of high-tech manufacturing technology is already available locally,” says Ryan Webb, Managing Member from HSW.

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