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Nigerian Startup BrightCloud Automotive Hopes To Start Making Electric SUVs & Pickups In The Near Future

Nigeria’s BrightCloud Automotive is hoping to jump into the electric SUV and pickup space, starting with its proposed Knight SUV that will come in both plug-in hybrid and full battery electric models.

Electric vehicles don’t seem to be a priority for legacy OEMs that have some presence in Africa. This could be due to several reasons that include Africa’s low motorization rates and the fact that the majority of vehicles brought into Africa are used vehicles from Asia and Europe. What these legacy automakers fail to see though, is that this low motorization actually presents an opportunity for another leapfrog event similar to what we have seen before with the telecommunications and fintech industries. Once the underserved and unbanked population were introduced to the world of mobile phones and subsequently mobile money, they quickly jumped in. They simply bypassed the fixed line era and brick & mortar banking when superior technology and services became available before the traditional telecoms and banking services had reached them. Having waited years for fixed telephone networks and traditional banking services to reach them, there was simply no reason to wait any longer once cell phones and associated value added services arrived. Africa’s low motorization levels present a similar opportunity.

BrightCloud Knight electric SUV

BrightCloud Knight electric SUV

A lot of African governments are inviting firms to establish motor vehicle assembly operations, starting with imported knocked down kits, and gradually increasing the percentage of local components and eventually manufacturing vehicles on the continent. VW is one of the firms that has heeded the call, opening assembly plants in Kenya and Ghana to add to the existing assembly plants in South Africa. But these new vehicle plants are only assembling ICE vehicles, which is a shame as these new plants could have started with EVs. South Africa hosts several assembly plants of major brands such as Toyota, Mercedes, Ford, Nissan, and VW, but South Africa risks missing out on the electric vehicle revolution as these plants still assemble just ICE vehicles and some mild hybrids.

Brightcloud Knight electric SUV

BrightCloud Knight electric SUV

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as some OEMs like Hyundai are starting to get quite serious about Africa. Hyundai in Ethiopia has gone straight in with some EVs! Marathon Motor Engineering, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and Olympic Champion Haile Gebrselassie, has started assembling the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq in Ethiopia. It seems Hyundai is serious about taking the lead in Africa and Hyundai is now assembling the critically acclaimed Hyundai Kona in Lagos Nigeria. Perhaps the best way forward to jumpstart local assembly/manufacturing is for African nations to look at local solutions. On the mass transit side, Uganda’s Kiira Motors is accelerating plans to supply all electric buses on the continent. On the last mile delivery side, South Africa’s MellowVans is ramping up production of its electric three-wheeler cargo vans that it develops, manufactures, and leases. On the electric bicycle side, Namibia’s Ebikes4Africa is also scaling up production of its SunCycles electric bicycles.

Now Nigeria’s BrightCloud Automotive is hoping to jump into the electric SUV and pickup space, starting with its proposed Knight SUV that will come in both plug-in hybrid and full battery electric models. The proposed all electric SUV will have some “flexible photovoltaic solar cells are seamlessly integrated into the roof seamlessly and beautifully. The polymer coating of the solar cells does not crack or break, it has high resistance and protects the solar cells from all forms external impact and hence preventing the cells from damage,” according to BrightCloud.

Here are some of the proposed specs of the SUV:

  • 100kwh /120kwh battery packs with active thermal management (liquid cooled)
  • Length 4725mm
  • Width 1931mm
  • Height 1969mm
  • Wheelbase 2890mm
  • Curb weight 2485kg

It’s still very early days for BrightCloud and it is still trying to raise funds to kickstart its project, but it is still exciting to hear some local startups are now looking into the feasibility of developing some manufacturing of EVs on the continent, and I hope they manage to make progress in their quest to start this project. South Africa’s Optimal Energy was probably too early in the market when it proposed its Joule electric 5-seat passenger car in 2008 but could not secure funding to take off. It is now 2021 and there are now over 10 million vehicles on the roads worldwide. Battery electric vehicles are increasing their market share in several markets in Europe and China. Adedokun Muhammed Ali Adedeji, CEO and Co-Founder of BrightCloud, hopes this wave of optimism around EVs across the globe will spill into Nigeria, catalyzing local manufacturing.

All images courtesy of BrightCloud

 
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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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