By John Agaba
Uganda will start commercial production of cars in 2018. Yes, you read it right. Uganda will start the commercial production of the Kiira EV SMACK, an improved version of the Kiira EV car, first unveiled by President Yoweri Museveni on Nov 24, 2011, in four years’ time.
This is according to Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, the Kiira EV Project principal investigator.
And the automotives (read cars) will be a hybrid blend of the conventional internal combustion engine and the electric vehicle, which means they can run on fuel and/or electric energy.
“We shall start the production in 2018, with 300 pieces a month,” Tickodri-Togboa told New Vision.
“On May 15, the Kiira EV Project received 100 acres of land at the Jinja Industrial and Business Park. We received the land to set up The Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), the first ever automotive original equipment manufacturer in Uganda and in the East African region. This has already happened. The Corporation is already registered. What is still a challenge is the funding,” Tickodri-Togboa said.
Paul Isaac Musasizi, the project’s chief engineer, said they need about $350m to set up the whole plant and start the actual manufacturing of cars.
“We need to develop at least 19 model vehicles between now and 2018 before we can finally release our first car, entirely built in Uganda,” Musasizi said.
“All these cars (19) will be crashed in the engineering validation. We make a model, we crash it. We make another; we crash it, from all sides, until we make that one which meets the internationally accepted standards,” Musasizi explained.
He said they are hiring a reputable car maker consortium to partner with them make internationally acceptable cars.
“This is more like a dream come true. We shall soon be building our own cars,” Jonathan Kasumba, an industrial designer and part of the 21-member team who designed the Kiira EV SMACK, said.
“We started with the Kiira EV from scratch. We would charge it and go for about 80 kilo-meters. We are building on this technology to make hybrid cars,” Kasumba added.
Fred Ogene, the Ag. Chief Executive Officer Uganda Development Cooperation (UDC), said the registration of KMC was only a beginning. “2018 is realistic. If you don’t dream, you will never do anything.”
Trade and industry minister Amelia Kyambadde said Uganda manufacturing cars was in line with the country’s national development plan.
“The commercialization of the project will motivate more youths to pursue science subjects. The project will also create jobs in the country.”
Regarding the funding, she promised to lobby the ministry of finance so they can have funding directly going to the Kiira Motors Corporation.
“Now that we have KMC as a registered government corporation and UDC, funding will be easy,” Kyambadde said.
The trade minister, however, asked the Corporation to attract other inverters into the project to grow it and it becomes big.
Away from building cars, the plant will also will also have an innovations centre for calibrating relevant technology in alternative fuels. It will also have vehicle testing tracks for speed, braking, climbing, handling and durability, and an administration block.
Asked about what particular car parts the Ugandans were manufacturing, Tickodri-Togboa said: “We do the designing, the shape, and the body. Other parts, we are still importing them. But there is no automotive maker in the whole world, even in the US, who manufactures all car parts. What they do is have the designs and ask other industries to make for them those designs.”
“As long as you design, produce and validate the car, you are the manufacturer,” Musasizi explained.
Tickodri-Togboa said Kiira Motors Corporation will provide a great opportunity for other entrepreneurs and investors to set up plants for the local manufacturer of car parts such as tires, lights, shock absorbers, brake pads and the like.
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