the kayoola sustainable bus uganda

Ugandan Engineers Built A Solar-Powered Bus for African Roads

Ugandan engineers have built a solar-powered electric bus that they say is a first of its kind in East Africa and think it will revolutionize the automotive market in the region. The Kayoola, as its called, is a 35-seater that can run for up to 80 kilometers on two power banks that can also be recharged by solar panels installed on the roof of the bus.

Paul Musasizi, chief executive officer of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), the state-funded company behind the vehicle, says with the potential for solar power in Uganda, it only made sense that engineers started to leverage the energy source for cars.

“The bus is purely electric and our idea is to test the strength of solar energy in enabling people to move,” he told a local newspaper.

The company built the prototype with funds from the Ugandan government. But KMC is hoping to attract investors to the project to start producing the buses for the mass market by 2018 at a retail price of $58,000. Typically, 35-seater buses retail between $35,000 to $50,000.

“As we continue with developing concepts, we are also studying the market,” Doreen Orishaba, one of the engineers in the project, told Uganda’s Observer newspaper. “We want to see that we don’t make vehicles for stocking but for production on orders.”

This is not KMC’s first foray into energy efficient car-making. Last year, the company introduced the Kiira Smack, a petrol-electric hybrid that it said would come into the market by 2018 as well for a $20,000 price. But analysts were doubtful at the time of the project’s commercial viability. The price could prove prohibitive, they argued, in a market that sells an estimated 20,000 cars a year. Additionally, in a part of the world where electricity is not a widely available commodity, electric dependent cars could put undue pressure on national grids.

But by using solar as a power source for the Kayoola, KMC may have found a way to overcome that challenge in this instance.

“Uganda being one of the 13 countries positioned along the equator, gives us about eight hours of significant solar energy that can be harvested,” Musasizi says.

BMW’s New Electric Car Sheds Weight With Hemp

TruthOnPot.com – BMW has finally come out with an all-electric car, which made its world debut on Monday. And in true BMW fashion, they’ve outdone just about every other electric car in what matters most: Weight. The BMW i3 is a mere 2,700 pounds – 800 pounds less than the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.

Weight is essential because the i3 depends entirely on a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery for fuel, which also contributes about 20% of the car’s total mass. The only solution was using a variety of low-weight materials to maximize fuel efficiency and driving range (130-160 km per charge) – hemp being one of them.

bmw electric hemp

Like many BMWs before it, the i3 features door panels made of hemp. Mixed together with plastic, hemp helps lower the weight of each panel by approximately 10%.

But that’s not all. The hemp fibers – which are left exposed – also offer a design element, reports Bloomberg. According to Benoit Jacob, the i3′s designer, the use of natural materials like hemp and kenaf (a plant in the hibiscus family) makes the i3′s interior feel like “a small loft on wheels.”

bmw electric car hemp

While any mention of hemp always seems to perk ears, the fact that hemp was used to make parts of the i3 shouldn’t come as a surprise. BMW has been testing and using natural fibers like hemp since the 1990′s, when government pressure to use recyclable materials forced most European car makers to go greener.

Starting out with trunk liners and airbag parts, BMW eventually expanded into making door panels out of hemp. By 2006, hemp panels were used in all of BMW’s 5 series models. Many luxury European car makers – including Mercedes and Audi – now make use of hemp in some form.

bmw electric car hemp

What’s next? The BMW i8 – an electric hybrid supercar that is set to launch early next year. And yes, it’s also made with hemp. This versatile, eco-friendly car component is definitely here to stay.