How many years have passed since the excitement of having a car made and conceptualized in Uganda more especially from Makerere University? Since then how often do you keep up with what happened to it and any new products from the startup? Fortunately, I do.
The students, lecturers and others who were on the Kiira EV project were a massive hit at the time and got to travel around Africa and the world, plus they got some funding to further their project. Kiira EV became Kiira Motors with more than 90% owned by the Ugandan government and the other percentage owned by Makerere University. I didn’t see that coming.
They have come a long way and have developed a black luxury electric coupe/sedan which they debuted at Serena hotel. It looks much better and more attractive than the experimental green EV they first made at university. It is something you would want to buy I guess, I haven’t driven it so can’t go in detail on stability, comfort, safety and much more.
The Kiira Motors team didn’t stop there, but also went further to create a solar powered bus, with the funky name “Kayoola”. Being Ugandans, we have failed to give them the credit they deserve for pulling off such a daunting feat, but we are quick to point out when their prototype breaks down on the road.
There are not many solar powered vehicles in the world and there are not many countries in Africa I know of that made an electric car before Uganda, I am extremely proud of Kiira Motors and more people should too.
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They have even been written about in Forbes Africa, that is a huge milestone and that means they are doing incredible work. However, I feel there is still something lacking, Tesla may have the funding from a billionaire scientist and the blessing of American support but Kiira Motors could borrow a thing or two from them.
For starters they could make a sporty limited-edition line alongside the other models they wish to be more accessible for Africa. This could help them focus on building a car model that is specifically targeted at wealthy people who like to collect cars and as well can afford an expensive unique piece.
There are several cars in the world that use a similar tactic, Kiira Motors team would just have to design a really cool electric car that utilizes charging powered by an external power source but also has cyclic or solar powered charging.
It could take time but the final piece would be perfect which could then be mass produced into maybe 300 units sold worldwide at a price of about $200,000; that is $60 million that can be injected into developing the other more affordable cars alongside the limited editions.
Once in a while they can also experiment with other green fuels and automotive technological advancements and create some prototypes to attract investors.
The other thing I noticed is the limited effort being injected in the expansion of Kiira Motors’ branding and marketing. They do tours and probably reach out to interested parties to attract investment, but they need to adopt a somewhat aggressive preferably digital marketing campaign to increase brand awareness not only in Uganda but globally.
It might be expensive but if more auto, environmentalists, technology enthusiasts and journalists know about you then you attract more interested investors and clients because you start being mentioned in the same sentence as companies like Tesla, Jaguar, Ford, Daimler AG who are all creating electric cars now.
And if you have perfected your solar technology, these companies will outsource your team to power their cars instead of inventing their own from scratch. The way many companies today are outsourcing Google’s self-driving technology.
Kiira Motors needs to take advantage of the current electric car bubble and get noticed with the swaying waves before another piece of technology sweeps in and excitement dies down. Ugandans will not hesitate to be proud if they know they are the subject of mass international conversation (I’m not talking about how you went on about Daniel Kaluya, who is British btw).
Lawk is a mozillian, writes for Spur, Newslibre and consults part time for Every1Mobile and Innovware.
He loves open source, the open web, writing, reading and developing literacy tools that can teach the youth around the world especially in East Africa.