It is interesting to note that the uptake of electric vehicles is steading picking up momentum in Zimbabwe. In May we saw mention of a South African company called Agilitee highlighting their plans to set up assembly plants in Zimbabwe. Agilitee specializes in manufacturing electric vehicles and motorbikes. DPA has also indicated that they shall set up electric charging stations across the country. These charging stations will be strategically located 150 km apart. For a while now, the ride-sharing enterprise, Vaya, has been using electric vehicles as part of its fleet – the Nissan Leaf, for example. CMED has now joined the bandwagon of electric vehicles.
CMED Procures Electric Vehicles
CMED recently bought 6 electric vehicles from a Chinese firm, BYD. I once spoke of BYD at the beginning of this year. BYD has a wide range of electric vehicles spanning from passenger vehicles, buses, garbage trucks to ordinary trucks. Since last year they have been concentrating their efforts on having a market presence in Zimbabwe. One of their common electric vehicles, the BYD T3 is already in Zimbabwe. It is a van-like electric vehicle perfect for a family car.
The electric vehicles bought by CMED are already in use. Some of them are being used at the EasyGo driving school. In case you did not know, EasyGo belongs to and is run by CMED. The other electric vehicles are being used for shuttles at the RGM International Airport. The charging ports for the vehicles have already been set up at CMED’s Harare depot. There are also plans to purchase more electric vehicles.
Several advantages come with using electric vehicles. They are eco-friendly which means they do not have harmful effects on the environment. They use electricity which can be produced using renewable sources e.g. solar. They are typically less costly and require much less in terms of maintenance. They are not as noisy as other types of vehicles that run on fossil fuels.
Are Electric Vehicles The Future In Zimbabwe?
Overall, the answer to that is YES. However, there are certain variables to consider.
Is The Power Affordable?
Let me use the BYD T3 (it is a 7-seater by the way) as an illustrative example for a moment. It has a 50.3 kWh battery which when fully charged gives you a range of 310 kilometres. This means, looking at it from a power bill perspective, it is relatively affordable. Especially if you are using it to commute to and fro work and probably to do your errands, you can go for many days on a single charge.
The Issue Of Charging Ports
So, the range is 310 kilometres on a single charge. Suppose you travel from Harare to Masvingo. This means you will have to get it charged in Masvingo because you would have covered a distance of roughly 292 kilometres. Here comes the challenge, to the best of my knowledge, there is no electric vehicle charging ports in Masvingo. Thus currently doing long distances with an electric vehicle in Zimbabwe might not be feasible.
This means that the more (in number) and more distributed electric vehicle charging ports there are, the better the feasibility of using electric vehicles for any distance.
The Cost Of Buying An Electric Vehicle
This is still a major impediment because the price is out of the reach of many. Last I checked the cheapest electric vehicle you can find, for example, the VW e-Golf costs roughly US$30000. This means many Zimbabweans will not be able to afford to buy an electric vehicle.
So there are still some variables that need to be streamlined. The issue of cost can be significantly lowered probably if we have local assembly plants. Having to import will definitely always keep the price tag too steep for many. Then there’s the fact that we do not generate enough power for the current demand, what would the impact of increased demand for electricity be? There are many benefits to be enjoyed from the use of electric vehicles. Getting to a point where they are being widely used in Zimbabwe is a goal worth pursuing.