Uganda set to roll with solar PV bus

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Uganda has unveiled what may be the first solar-powered bus in Africa.

Recently launched Ugandan automaker Kiira Motors Corporation designed the electric bus. It is one of the new company’s three concept vehicles, which also include a two seat electric car and a five-seat hybrid sedan.

The bus, known as the Kayoola, is powered by solar PV panels on its roof and seats 35 passengers.

Kiira executives hope the Kayoola will become Africa’s first public solar-powered bus.

“This bus, there’s actually no engine,” explained Mario Obuwa, the project’s chief engineer, in a report by Voice of America. “What is driving the bus is a motor, a traction motor, which is being run by a battery and the battery banks are the ones that are linked to the solar system that’s on the roof.”

The bus can achieve up to 80 kilometers on a single charge while the solar panels extend that range by an additional 12 kilometers, according to the company. The Kayoola can be recharged using solar power or by connecting it to an electric power source.

Ugandan authorities hope the Kayoola will help solve severe traffic problems in the Ugandan capital of Kampala by providing greater options to commuters.

The Kayoola is currently priced at more than $140,000 but that figure would drop to around $55,000 if mass produced, according to Voice of America. The government has yet to approve the bus for official use for public transportation.

The Kayoola and Kiira’s other vehicles are part of the Ugandan government’s efforts to embrace clean energy.

Kiira was established in 2014 by Makerere University and a presidential initiative for automotive manufacturing in Uganda and is owned by the university and the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC), the Ugandan government’s public investment arm.