This New Pilot Program is Bringing Electric Cars to the Streets of Rwanda
Citing a strong electricity grid in Kigali, Volkswagen is rolling out a Rwandan version of their “e-Golf.”
Rwanda is now the first country on the continent to feature fully electric cars from Volkswagen. Starting today, there will be four models of the popular Golf model, now dubbed “e-Golf,” on the streets as part of partnership between Volkswagen and Siemens to test the viability of electric cars in Africa. According to pro-government newspaper, The New Times, Rwanda was chosen because Kigali’s strong energy infrastructure would support the building of charging stations throughout the city without disturbing businesses and residents.
Thomas Schaefer, Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen in South Africa, first confirmed the release of Volkswagen’s plans in Rwanda in February. “We did a grid check-in Rwanda together with GRZ and Siemens last year and they are ready. They already get their electricity from 70 percent renewable energy and that will change to 100 percent in the next 10 years,” he told ITNews Africa.
The cars, as the BBC reports, can cover 142 miles (230 kilometers) on a single full charge if conditions are good. While it is exciting news, the cars are not up for public, consumer purchase just yet. Instead, the small fleet of cars are part of a pilot program and still belong to Volkswagen—but they plan on using them with their ride-share app Move. Officials tied to the firm report that they will use information gained from consumer responses and performance reports of the car in the app to influence further phases of the pilot project, assessment of the environment for electric cars and to know when and how to enter the consumer market across the continent.
Currently the e-cars’ parts are mainly manufactured in other countries and then assembled at the Volkswagen plant in Kigali, which opened last year. Currently, there is only one charging station, also located at the plant, but Siemens is planning to expand to 15 stations around the city in the coming months as with the inclusion of more e-Golfs, the New Times reports. It is hoping to help solve a small issue reported this summer that Rwanda was producing more energy than it was using and firms were encouraged to use more energy.
The news of the e-Golfs follows closely behind Rwanda’s recent announcement of providing the first Made in Africa smartphone.