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Can Low Speed Electric Vehicles Spark The EV Revolution In Africa? Part 2: Funky Electric’s FE1

Not everyone needs a 2.5-ton speed machine that goes from zero to 100km/h in 1 second. A small vehicle that has a range of about 100 km and limited to 60 km/h could be just fine for a lot of people living in urban areas. High school kids driving themselves to school, college students, recent college graduates going work, small families, and small businesses looking for a runaround car or last mile delivery option, could do just fine with such a small city vehicle. These low speed electric vehicles could also catalyze the increase of sustainable mobility options in rural and farming environments.

Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSEVs) helped spark the electric vehicle revolution in China a while ago. Before the LFP battery powered mini EVs became a thing, a few years ago, lead acid battery powered LSEVs were the biggest thing in those cities and villages in China. China’s LSEV market has probably set a precedent for the type of disruptive innovation we are seeing from the mini EVs. These LSEVs vehicles have been quite popular in small towns and in rural areas in China. They are quite an upgrade from bicycles, e-bikes, and motorcycles, as they protect drivers from the elements and generally cost less than $3,000. Over 5 million of these LSEVs, which generally come with lead acid batteries, have been sold in China.

We are starting to see some of these LSEVs popping up in some African countries, including Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, the EV Centre, which is also the official distributer of BYD vehicles in Zimbabwe, has just introduced the Derry Auto V7 LSEV to the Zimbabwean market in right-hand drive. This move is a bid to offer a wider range of electric vehicles to cater to people with different incomes. The Derry Auto V7 LSEV is a small 5-door EV that seats 4 quite comfortably. It has a 10 kW motor, and a 10.8 kWh LFP battery pack.

Now, across the Limpopo river in South Africa, Funky Electric is bringing its first LSEV to the market, the FE1. Stephan Theron and his wife have been living in the United Kingdom for over a 15 years running a restaurant business. This led them to be invited to go to China on the back on their success in the UK. Having spent 2 years in China, they were inspired by all the LSEVs in China and decided to bring this concept to Africa.

The Funky Electric has a 4 kW motor with a top speed of 60 km/h and a range of about 100 km in city driving, says Funky Electric. In most urban centers, the speed limit is 60 km anyway, so it would be quite fine in inner city driving. Funky Electric is looking at spreading its wings via a franchise model. Funky Electric says it costs just R20 ($1.17) of electricity to drive 100 km in the FE1. The FE1 will be priced from R190,000 ($11,000). Although it’s not in the same category, it does offer a chance for more people to get into electric mobility compared to the cheapest full electric vehicle that is available in South Africa that starts at R700,000 ($40,700). What are your thought on LSEVs? Let us know in the comments section.

 

Images courtesy of Ryan Jarrett

 
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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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