On the 9th of October, 2018, the management of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) announced that its electric buses named Kayola will begin operations on Ugandan roads in March 2019. Africa Mobilities Observatory – AMO learnt.
The revelation is a result of the Ugx 24 billion (over USD 6 million) investment by government in the current financial year (2018-2019) into the company that is owned by government in partnership with Makerere University.
What is Kiira Motors Cooperation (KMC)?
Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) is an Automotive Manufacturing Company incorporated by Government of Uganda and Makerere University to champion value addition in the Domestic Automotive Industry for job creation and diversification of the economy.
Résumé en français: Le 9 octobre 2018, la direction de Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) a annoncé que ses autobus électriques, Kayola, commenceraient à fonctionner sur des routes ougandaises en mars 2019. Observatoire de la mobilité africaine - AMO appris.
What is Kayoola Electric Bus?
The Kayoola bus concept represents the next generation of public transport for cities within the region. The first of its kind on the African continent, the Kayoola Solar bus relies on lithium-ion batteries to power an electric motor that is coupled to a 2-speed pneumatic shift transmission. This technology serves to conserve the environment and public health. The telltale signatures of traditional diesel engine buses plumes of dark smoke blowing out of the tailpipe and a grumbling engine sound are replaced by a soft whine as soon as the electric bus accelerates.
According to Prof Tickodri-Togboa, the Executive Chairman of Kiira Motors, their production plans have been brought forward by the production capacity at Luwero Industries Limited.
“We found out that Luwero Industries Limited has the capacity to enable us to develop the electric vehicles we have been talking about the Kayola, we do not need to wait for the Jinja site. So between now and March next year hopefully, we shall bring out probably three buses on the streets and we shall put them on Kampala-Entebbe and Kampala-Mukono roads to reduce the traffic jams on these routes,” Prof Tickodri said.
He also revealed that whereas they are currently importing some spare parts in the production process, they will soon start producing all parts in the country.
He said the Kiira Motors will only do 15% of production works at the Jinja factory while the 85% of the work manufacturing will be done my small and medium scale industries in the country.
Who is making what in the Kayoola solar bus production?
“Our interest at Kira motors was not only assemble vehicles, we wanted to add local content so that by the end of the day the raw material that this country has must be added to the content. Our agenda was not only setting up an assembly line, import parts and assemble the cars and say we have manufactured the cars. We shall only do 15% of the work at our factory, while the rest will be done outside the factory, but in Uganda by Ugandans,” Prof Tickodri said.
Prof Tickodri said the project has evolved from being an extra-curricular activity under the auspices of the then faculty of technology Makerere University, to a mainstream research and innovation programme.
“This proof of concept project started in 2009 with funding from the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology Innovation Programme,” said Prof Tickodri-Togboa who mentored students and presided over the design and assembling of the KIIRA EV which was launched by President Museveni on November 24, 2011.
Expected production capacity
Mr Paul Isaac Musasizi, the Chief Executive Officer of KMC, said the company’s product will include Sedans, pick-ups, crosser-overs, buses and trucks. A Sedan costs $25,000, a Crossover $28,000 and $32,000 for a Pick-up.
“Production starts in 2018 with 305 vehicles and production is expected to be at full capacity of 60,000 vehicles per year by 2039,” said Mr Musasizi. According to the an American- based consulting company, RLE International, that conducted the Kiira Motors Business case, the development of infrastructure is estimated to cost $36m (about Shs121b).
Why the delay on the project ever since initiation in 2009?
He said the process has been slow because Uganda did not have the necessary infrastructure to start manufacturing cars, but progress is being made to achieve the desired target.
“We got stuck for some time because we did not have the funds. That is why we had to bring in government to provide funding. Kiira Motors has delayed to bring out the cars from 2011 because we do not have the relevant infrastructure on the ground,” Prof Tickodri said.
By Joseph Semuju
Community Manager - AMO
African Mobilities Observatory - AMO, MICHELIN