I was born in Mutare, a beautiful small border town in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. Mutare is home to one of Zimbabwe’s motor vehicle assembly plants, Quest Motor Corporation. Quest Motors is also the official dealer for BMW in Zimbabwe. I used to like BMW a lot when I was growing up.
Being the second youngest in a family of 6 children (five boys and one girl), meant that a lot of the things I grew to love when I was a child and as a teenager were heavily influenced by my older brothers and my sister. My eldest brother was very much into east coast hip-hop. He would be playing audio cassette tapes (remember those?) and videos on the VCR of all the latest hip-hop music all the time. So, naturally I got into that too. DJ Premier & Guru, KRS-One & the BDP, Rakim & Eric B, The Wu-Tang Clan, Graig Mack, and the Notorious B.I.G. were some of his favorite artists. He would exchange VHS tapes with his friends, and we would get regular episodes of Yo MTV Raps. Ed Lover and Fab 5 Freddy! Those were the days. When Dr. Dre unleashed Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound, I became a huge fan of west coast hip-hop too.
My older brothers also played a key role in developing my love for football (soccer). We used to watch what they called “big league soccer” then before the launch of the English premier league. My favorite team was The Arsenal, and I still support them to this day. Growing up in a small town, there was not a lot to do, and going to Sakubva stadium to watch soccer games became one of our favorite things to do. My Dad and some of my older brothers supported Dynamos FC, so naturally, I started supporting Dynamos too. Dynamos, from the capital city, Harare, was Zimbabwe’s biggest team at the time. Mutare didn’t have a team in the top division for a while until Tanganda (now defunct) was promoted. I would go and watch Tanganda every other weekend when they had home matches. The highlight of the season was when Dynamos came to Mutare to play Tanganda. Tanganda’s star player was Lloyd “Samaita” Mutasa, one of the finest playmakers I have ever seen. I am pretty sure that had he been playing now in the age of social media and more professional soccer structures, he would have secured a big move to Europe. He did move from Tanganda to Dynamos though, and helped Dynamos reach the African Champions League Final in 1998.
One season, something caught my eye. Dynamos had a new kit sponsor. It was not a well-known brand in this part of the world at that time. The tagline for this new company was “Handei ne Hyundai,” which translated from Shona means “Lets Go With Hyundai.” Hyundai had just entered the Zimbabwean market with affordable sedans such as the Hyundai Excel. These vehicles were assembled in Mutare. One of the major targets was fleet operators, and these Hyundai Excels found key customers in some of Zimbabwe’s oldest metered taxi companies, Rixi Taxi and A1 Taxis.
Hyundai and its local partners had done their research well. That tagline “Handei ne Hyundai” really connected with the people, and we started seeing more and more of the Hyundai Excels and Accents on the roads. Consumers often raised some concerns around the quality of the cars. Some consumers felt that these new cars were not yet on the same level as the Toyotas, Mazdas, Nissans, and Fords that they were used to, but they were affordable and allowed many families to get a new car. Modern Hyundai models are of course excellent vehicles. Hyundai models are no longer assembled in Zimbabwe, but I hope they come back soon. Hyundai, however, is making moves on the continent and is probably the most serious automaker when it comes to bringing brand new EVs to the continent.
Marathon Motor Engineering, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and Olympic Champion Haile Gebrselassie, has started assembling the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq sedan in Ethiopia. Assembling the Ioniq in Ethiopia provides much-needed job opportunities and skills transfer programs, as well as contributing to the growth of the economy by contributing to the growth of downstream industries. Let’s hope they also add the new Ioniq 5 as well.
The Stallion Group and Hyundai are now assembling the critically acclaimed Hyundai Kona EV in Lagos, Nigeria. The 64 kWh Kona is sold in Nigeria for about $62,000. It’s really exciting to see that Hyundai, along with its local partners, also chose to do assembly in Nigeria and not just import fully built-up vehicles.
The 64 kWh Hyundai Kona EV is now also on sale in Ghana! The Kona was also on show at the recent EV Conference and Exhibition in Accra. The Ghanaian EV scene is getting very exciting thanks to the Energy Commission’s push for mass EV adoption under its drive electric initiative.
Kenya is the latest market to join in on the fun. The 2022 Hyundai Kona is now available in Kenya. the 64 kWh version starts from around 8 million Kenya shillings ($72,000). The 39 kWh version is also available, providing consumers with a more affordable option. Lead time for customers is 3 months, which is not bad considering the wait times for other in-demand EV models across the world. You can watch a video of the Hyundai Kona in Nairobi here. The Kona is distributed in Kenya by Hyundai Kenya – Caetano.
Hyundai appears to be the only established company that is keen to introduce brand new EV models to several African markets, while other established automakers are still playing a wait-and-see game. I hope the new Ioniq 5 is also added to all these markets. There is no word on South Africa just yet, but I do hope Hyundai South Africa adds Hyundai’s EV range to this market. Which country do you think Hyundai EVs will go to next? Will we also start to see Kia’s EVs as well?
Images courtesy of Katherine Keango
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