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Kayoola EVS buses


Uganda’s Kiira Motors: Electric Bus Pilot Program & Jinja EV Factory Construction Update

Ugandan electric vehicle manufacturing firm Kiira Motors wants to take advantage of all those clean electrons to power the transition to electromobility in Uganda and beyond. Kiira has also been running a pilot for its Kayoola Electric buses. We caught up with Kiira Motors CEO Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi to find out how the pilot has gone so far.

A lot of progress has been made in the energy sector in several African countries over the last decade. We recently looked at why Kenya is just perfect for EVs due to its excess electricity generation capacity. Ghana is also pushing for the adoption of EVs to soak up its excess capacity. Uganda is another country that has moved very quickly from having a shortage to the current situation where it finds itself in the enviable position of sitting with excess generating capacity.

Table 1. Uganda’s Installed Generation Capacity*

 Source 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Large Hydro 380.0 630.0 630.0 630.0 630.0 630.0 630.0 630.0 855.0 855.0
Small Hydro 52.7 65.2 65.2 65.3 65.3 65.3 82.3 114.0 149.3 149.2
Thermal (HFO) 101.6 101.6 101.6 101.6 101.6 101.6 101.6 101.6 101.6 100.0
Solar 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 10.8 20.8 40.8 50.8 50.8
Cogeneration 75.1 75.1 75.1 75.1 96.2 96.2 96.2 96.2 96.2 96.2
Diesel 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1
Total (MW) 609.4 872.0 872.0 872.1 894.8 905.0 932.1 983.8 1254.0 1252.4
Demand (MW) 549.8 560 579.3 625.3 645.4 723.8 767#

*Source: Uganda Electricity Regulatory Authority

#Author’s estimate based on previous annual demand growth

Uganda’s current installed capacity stands at 1 252 MW against a domestic demand of 767 MW. 80% of this generation capacity comes from hydropower stations. Ugandan electric vehicle manufacturing firm Kiira Motors wants to take advantage of all those clean electrons to power the transition to electromobility in Uganda and beyond. Construction of Kiira Motors’ new factory in Jinja, Uganda is at an advanced stage. Kiira has also been running a pilot for its Kayoola Electric buses. CleanTechnica caught up with Kiira Motors CEO Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi (PM) to find out how the pilot has gone so far.

CT: How is the pilot phase of your electric buses going so far?

PM: The pilot phase of the Kayoola electric buses has registered tremendous success with the buses now offering shuttle services for Uganda Civil Aviation Authority. The Kayoola EVS Bus is innovatively designed to facilitate a total sustainable mass mobility solution for urban centers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kayoola EVS has a fully electric powertrain whose zero tailpipe emissions will improve air quality in the city through mitigation of the high transport-based carbon emissions.

The utilization of Kayoola EVS buses for the Kampala Eco Bus Project will also go a long way in addressing the consumption of the excess generated hydroelectric power. The bus carrying capacity of up to 90 people positions it to offer great returns for the bus operator while enabling the reduction in congestion on the city roads. The Kayoola EVS has an inclusive design fitted with state-of-the-art safety and assistive technology for people with special needs, including special seats and a ramp for easy boarding and off-boarding of people in wheelchairs.

Kayoola EVS buses

Kayoola EVS buses, courtesy of Kiira Motors

CT: How many buses are part of the pilot, and how many kilometers have the buses covered so far in this pilot phase?

PM: 2 Kayoola EVS buses were built for both piloting and validation, they have each covered over 2000km

CT: How is the progress in the factory? When will the factory be up and running? 

PM: Construction of the Kiira Vehicle Plant commenced on 12th February 2019 and by 30th June 2020, progress stood at 50% of the startup facilities comprising of 40,000 square meter production facilities; 12km of access and in-plant circulation roads; 3.6 km of fence; and 1.7 km of open stormwater channel for site drainage. The construction works undertaken by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces through National Enterprise Corporation are scheduled to be completed in June 2021 subject to availability of the requisite funds. 

The construction and installation of a 3.7km long 33kV medium voltage electricity power line connecting the Kiira Vehicle Plant site to the National Electricity Grid and a 5.4km long 6-inch water pipeline connecting the Kiira Vehicle Plant site to the municipal water supply have been completed. The opening and construction to gravel level of a 2.5km access road to the Kiira Vehicle Plant site is 50% complete. The plan is to have the initial phase completed and commissioned by end of June 2021

CT: When fully operational, how many buses do you plan to manufacture per annum?

PM: The production facility that is planned to be completed in June 2021 shall have an installed capacity of 5000 vehicles per annum when fully operational. 

CT: What percentage of the components will be sourced locally?

PM: Kiira Motors Corporation conducted a Situation Analysis for Automotive Local Content Participation in Uganda. Over 105 manufacturing companies which are either already in the business of auto parts or have potential for auto parts manufacturing were identified. Kiira Motors Corporation subsequently developed a roadmap for auto parts manufacture in Uganda. Key stakeholder engagements are ongoing to put in place the modalities for developing these companies as domestic manufacturers and suppliers of auto parts (e.g. batteries, auto filters, seats, web-frame, auto paints, body panels, etc.) for the Kiira Vehicle Plant. 

CT: How many people will the company employ?

PM: 14,000 direct and indirect jobs are premised to be created when the production facilities are fully operational. 

CT: Kayoola Bus Specs: What is the motor power and the torque?

PM: Bus Characteristic: Pure Electric Low Entry City Bus

Overall Dimensions (mm): 12,190 x 2,550 x 3,200

Carrying Capacity: 90 (49 seated, 41 standing)

Maximum Motor Power (kW): 245

Torque (Nm): 3,300

Range on single charge (km): 300

Battery bank energy capacity: 301 kWh 

The Kayoola EVS Bus is further equipped with on-board Wi-Fi to ensure the travelers stay connected; CCTV system for enhanced security; USB charging ports to enable charging of traveler’s devices; display boards for timely and accurate information dissemination; automated sanitizer dispenser to promote hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond; air conditioning; smart ticketing and revenue accounting system; safety features including three-point seatbelts for the driver and two-point seatbelts for the passengers; latches and supports for standing passengers; on-board diagnostics, and others. The Kayoola EVS is available in variants including the 12.5-meter long bus, 12.0 meters, and 10.5 meters.

It is important to note that the floor of the Kayoola EVS is made from bamboo, the interior mainly plastics and aluminum with a steel superstructure and body panels. These provide an unprecedented opportunity for participation of a wide range of local manufacturers making components to feed the production line at the Kiira Vehicle Plant addressing the key aspects of supply chain localization and engendering import substitution.

CT: What is the charge time and how many kW is the charger?

PM: The Kayoola EVS charging time is 1.5 hours using a fast charger rated at 200kw.

BYD is ramping up deliveries of its electric buses around the globe, including in Chile . CleanTechnica regularly posts some awesome updates on electric bus deployments. It is good to see a local firm here in Africa moving to scale up their electric bus manufacturing project.

View of the warehouse (front) and assembly shop (rear)

Kiira Vehicle Assembly Shop roofing

Main assembly building

Kayoola EVS buses

Installation of axles at Luwero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Integration of the frame at Luwero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Welding of frame at Luwero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Installation of side panel at Luwero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Installation of rear body panel at Luwero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Interior paneling at Luwero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Installation of electrical cabling at Luweero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola

Installation of electrical cabling at Luweero Industries Ltd, Nakasongola


Images courtesy of Kiira Motors

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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