Would you buy an Africa-built electric vehicle?
A Moroccan company has ambitious plans to build the first ever African-built electric vehicle in 2026. The mobility issues facing South Africa and the African continent as a whole are well documented, and all of them point to the first African-built electric vehicle for mass production being a rather ambitious undertaking. Africa as a whole […]
A Moroccan company has ambitious plans to build the first ever African-built electric vehicle in 2026.
The mobility issues facing South Africa and the African continent as a whole are well documented, and all of them point to the first African-built electric vehicle for mass production being a rather ambitious undertaking.
Africa as a whole is characterised by a lack of EV infrastructure and huge distances between destinations, which doesn’t lend itself to mass adoption of electric mobility like in Europe or the East. EVs are also hugely expensive to purchase, which is why most of Africa is consigned to driving old gas guzzlers from the West (link to the story below).
ALSO READ: Africa: Where ageing gas guzzlers go to die
Nevertheless, that isn’t stopping a company called Atlas E-Mobility Group from revealing plans for the first-ever African designed and engineered electric vehicle, which the firm says will debut as soon as 2026.
AFRICAN-BUILT ELECTRIC VEHICLE: TELL US MORE
The company is based in London and will mass produce its EV in Morocco, where a few global automotive players already have a foothold. These companies include the Renault Group, which manufactures Dacias and Renaults at its Tangiers plant, and Stellantis, which makes the Peugeot 208 in Kenitra.
Atlas was founded in 2021 by Mohammed Yehya El Bakkali, the company’s CEO, and Mohammed Hicham Senhaji Hannoun, the company’s Executive Chairman and CTO, with “substantial private funding,” according to the official Atlas E-Mobility Group press release.
The pair wants to bring to market a zero-emissions car that’s affordable, practical and inspired by Moroccan design and identity. The vehicle will be developed with emerging markets in mind, where little to no EV infrastructure exists.
MOROCCO NOT SOUTH AFRICA
The Moroccan company says it will focus on “advanced range-enhancing technology, battery and charging networks, and will make use of a “proven OEM EV architecture,” which we understand to mean it will use an existing platform made by another car brand, possibly Renault or Peugeot.
“We feel strongly that Africa is being ignored by companies in the EV transition. However, no one should underestimate the continent’s determination to advance nor doubt its ability to produce world-leading zero-carbon-free technological solutions. In the field of transportation, these will prove pivotal to helping limit the rise in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius,” said Mohammed Yehya El Bakkali, co-founder and CEO of Atlas E-Mobility Group.
REMEMBER THE OPTIMAL ENERGY JOULE
The endeavor, as well-meaning as it is, reminds us of the failed Optimal Energy Joule in South Africa. It was a four-door EV designed, engineered and built in Cape Town with an EV range at the time of 150 km. It even debuted to the world at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and again at the Geneva Motor Show in 2010.
Sadly, the venture shutdown in 2012 when the government pulled its funding, saying it was no longer commercially viable. As intrigued as we are by the Atlas E-Mobility EV, at the same time we can’t help but be skeptical, especially as a cost-effective, mass-produced EV vehicle in Africa will be incredibly difficult to produce.
Here’s to the ambitious company proving us wrong.