Most electric cars are expensive, delicate creatures designed for paved streets and well-heeled early adopters. And that makes them ill-suited to rural Africa, as many roads away from the cities aren’t paved at all, and just about any electric vehicles would be out of reach. That’s where the Technical University of Munich (TUM) comes into play. At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, TUM unveiled a prototype electric vehicle, called the aCar, that’s designed for both the conditions and uses of rural Africa.
The aCar, which was specifically built to “serve the needs of the African population”, has a rugged, four-wheel drive design that can handle dirt roads and off-roading.
“For farmers who live far from urban centres, this means they have no direct access to medical care, education, or to political processes,” said the designers. “The aCar is an offroad-capable vehicle that is affordable for people there and is capable of transporting heavy loads.”
It only has about 50 miles of range, but the very nature of an electric motor makes it both well-suited to clearing obstacles (since it always has full torque) and more reliable. It has a battery capacity of 20kWh, a top speed of 60km/h, seating for 2 people, and can carry a load of 1 ton.
Also, it’s modular — it can switch between carrying passengers and cargo, and you can even use the battery to power a winch or other equipment beyond the car.
The aCar completed real-world tests in Ghana this July, and it’s already expected to go into production (eventually in Africa) with a target price below €10,000 (about $11,944).
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