Stellenbosch University and several companies aim to bring the first electric minibus taxi to South African shores before the end of 2022.
Various production vehicle models will be tested in South African conditions throughout 2023.
The project team comprises GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics, and various entities within Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Engineering and SU’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES).
Global mobility management technology company GoMetro, headquartered in Cape Town, said it has collected data on taxi operations across South Africa.
It convened the project team and researchers to launch a demonstrator project to advance e-mobility development locally by testing an electric minibus in South Africa.
“Taxi drivers and owners are very interested and intrigued by the idea of an electric minibus taxi, and are constantly asking us when the first electric minibus taxi will arrive on our shores,” said GoMetro CEO Justin Coetzee.
“We have built valuable relationships with a large number of taxi associations, and the ever-increasing fuel price is a massive concern among owners, drivers and riders alike, as there does not seem to be any relief in sight,” said Coetzee.
“The industry has long acknowledged that business as usual will not suffice — and that change is required, especially after the effects of Covid–19.”
The consortium said the aim of testing different models is to establish which vehicle would best suit South Africa’s public transport industry.
Besides testing the vehicle, the group will also lobby the government regarding the duties levied on electric cars.
Electric vehicle proponents in South Africa have long complained that South Africa’s tariff regime is an obstacle to the increased uptake of the technology.
“The informal taxi sector must transform to EVs, but little is known about their energy requirements,” said SU Internet of Things research chair Professor Thinus Booysen.
Booysen will lead the team of testing experts.
“This unknown is overshadowed by our energy scarcity and coal dependence on the electricity supply side,” he added.
“This collaborative project will ensure we are prepared for and carefully manage this exciting transition.”
According to the consortium, they will conduct rigorous and extensive testing in and around the town of Stellenbosch.
They also promise to put the electrification of South Africa’s minibus taxi sector firmly on the national agenda through an educational roadshow in all nine provinces in 2023.