A vehicle manufacturer in Uganda, Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) has unveiled its first solar powered bus called Kayoola Solar Bus which represents the next generation of public transport in Uganda.
The Solar Bus is named after a Luganda word which literally means ‘carry-all’. First of its kind in the continent of Africa, the solar-powered prototype began as a project in the Center for Research in Transportation in Makerere University in 2007.
Unlike other vehicles, the Kayoola Solar Bus does not have an engine, it relies on Lithium-ion batteries to power the electric motor that is coupled to a 2-speed pneumatic shift transmission. The Solar Bus is a 35-seater with a mid-capacity, expected to run 80 km, or virtually a full operational day between recharges.
Kiira Motors Corporation is owned by the State of Uganda, established to champion value addition in the nascent Motor Vehicle Industry in Uganda through Technology Transfer, Contract Manufacturing and Supply Chain Localization. The company has been said to have worked on three concept vehicles, the Kiira EV launched in 2011, the Kiira EVsmack launched in 2014 and also the Outlet Kayoola Solar Bus which was launched on the 16th of February, 2016.
According to a Kayoola Engineer, Mario Obuwa, the prototype solar bus is noiseless because its fraction motors are powered by batteries and supplemented by solar panels at the top of the bus. He said: “The system is fully run on green energy and in the future we are looking at renewable and sustainable energy”.
The Solar Bus uses 100% renewable energy as it has an advantage of ever abundant sunlight to power the solar panels over the other buses which use fuel. According to Moses Kalule Waswa, a Kayoola Engineer, “The difference between the Kayoola Solar Bus and other buses is these buses use fuel while the solar bus uses batteries and when accelerating you cannot tell because it is as powerful as these other buses”.
The cost price to produce the Kayoola Solar Bus prototype is $140,000, but if mass-produced it would come with a significantly lower price tag of $45,000.
The CEO of Kiira Motors Corporation, Paul Isaac Musasizi said he hopes to attract investors interested in green energy for funding and future staff training. However, the automobile company gets funding from a scheme known as the Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology. Musasizi said, “I would like to break into the business community and get investment, but of course a project of this nature needs the government to come in so it can showcase that this is a viable investment”.