aCar Is an Affordable EV for Sub-Saharan Africa

The aCar is a new EV, with all-wheel drive, rugged suspension, and designed to improve life in rural Africa.

It was designed as an off-road ready electric truck at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and intended to transport cargo and passengers in areas far from cities. Its makers say it is ideally suited for where roads are poor or non-existent, where affordability is key, but keeping in mind that there may not be a power plug nearby.

The aCar uses a 20 kilowatt-hour battery that the TUM said gives a range of 50 miles (80 km). It can be charged from a standard 220-volt plug (the common voltage in sub-Saharan Africa), but also has available solar collector sheets that can use the sun to charge the vehicle. For a car used daily, that might not be effective, but for a vehicle used for market trips or weekly runs to town, it could be an ideal way to drive off-grid.

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The aCar has a load capacity of 2,200 pounds, more than most cars and more than many smaller trucks. That capacity can be used to transport passengers or move cargo to market, but it can also handle special “modules” designed by TUM. These modules could be something like a mobile doctor’s office, or a water treatment station. The battery can be used to operate those modules or other tools like a winch. The cab has a capacity of two, and the top speed is 37 miles per hour (60 km/h). The TUM took the vehicle to Ghana last June for field testing.

The price goal for the aCar was to keep it under $12,000 (€10,000). That means that it will have to be built in the areas where it is sold. Local assembly can help the local economy as well as benefiting those who buy the vehicles. Simple construction and design lower production and assembly costs.

To put the concept – displayed also at the Frankfurt auto show last week – into production, Martin Šoltés and Sascha Koberstaedt, who lead the project, are forming a company to build the vehicle. They expect to start production in Germany, then move it to Africa once the process is sorted out.


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