aCar: Electric vehicle built for rural Africa debuts

Finally, there is an electric car specifically built to suit the needs of rural sub Saharan Africa. Most of the electric cars currently on sale in the developed world such as the revolutionary Tesla car models were designed with evenly tarred roads in mind. However, the prototype electric vehicle, called the aCar, developed by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany is set to make green vehicles no longer a preserve of the West. The car has already been put to real life tests on rural roads in Ghana.

The aCar is an electric four-wheel drive utility vehicle. The aCar is designed for passenger and cargo transportation. It was unveiled to the public at International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany which ended recently.

In a release obtained by Nigerian Tribune, Professor Markus Lienkamp, head of the TUM Chair of Automotive Technology stated that “The aCar is an off-road capable vehicle that is affordable for people there and is capable of transporting heavy loads. The modular structure also allows other uses for example for water treatment.”

TUM launched the project “aCar mobility – Rural mobility in developing countries” in 2013.

The release saidthe developers decided on an electric power train.  “An electric drive is not only greener, but is also the better solution in technical terms, since it is low-maintenance and can apply its full torque directly to accelerating from a stop,” says Martin Šoltés, who shares leadership of the project with SaschaKoberstaedt at the Chair of Automotive Technology.

The developers state that the aCar is primarily intended for transporting passengers and cargo, with a total load capacity of one ton. Its battery offers a variety of other possible applications, either as an energy source or as a drive for high-consumption applications, for example as a winch.

They said that a number of various modules have been designed for the cargo bed which can be used on a modular basis. Additional modules can turn the vehicle for example into a mobile physician’s office or a water treatment station.

The aCar uses a 20 kWh battery capacity gives the vehicle an electric range of 80 kilometres. The battery can be loaded from an ordinary 220 volt household wall socket within seven hours.

It also has solar modules mounted on the roof to gather energy throughout the day.

Developers say that in future, as many of the aCar’s components as possible are to be manufactured on location, in order to strengthen local economies. In order to make the automobile affordable for people on location, the price for the basic vehicle in Africa is to be kept under 10,000 Euros on a long-term basis.