A group of companies and researchers have announced plans to test an electric minibus taxi in South African conditions beginning in 2023.
The pilot project is set to begin in Stellenbosch, with a series of educational roadshows planned for all nine provinces in 2023.
The project team consists of GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics, and various entities within Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Engineering.
A number of electric minibus taxi models from various markets have been identified, the first of which will be on South African shores by the end of the year.
The model will be extensively tested with taxi owners and drivers to identify the use-cases and conditions where an electric taxi would make the most sense.
Justin Coetzee CEO for GoMetro says, “Taxi drivers and owners are very interested in the idea of an electric minibus taxi. 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.”
The team will test different models to establish which vehicle will best suit the local public transport industry, and what spectrum of operations are conducive to the range capabilities of the vehicles.
The project team also wants to engage with the automotive sector and policy makers to encourage discussions with the government around reducing duties and promoting electric vehicles in the transport sector.
Professor Thinus Booysen Research Chair in the Internet of Things at Stellenbosch University will lead the team of testing experts.
“The informal taxi sector must transform to EVs, but little is known about their energy requirements. This unknown is overshadowed by our energy scarcity and coal dependence on the electricity supply side. This collaborative project will ensure we are prepared for and carefully manage this exciting transition,” says Booysen.
According to Dr Bernard Bekker of Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, electrification of the transport sector raises technical and regulatory challenges.
“The availability of electric minibus taxi to inform our research activities will provide very valuable inputs to address these challenges,” says Dr Bekker.
While EV sales have increased in the Global North and many global vehicle manufacturers plan to stop production of combustion engines as early as 2030, in sub-Saharan Africa, the transition to EVs has been slow. This research project aims to accelerate the transition to cleaner and greener mobility.