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Hurdles as electric vehicle debuts in second quarter

By Benjamin Alade
27 March 2020   |   4:17 am
Climate change is for real. The changes in global temperature and weather patterns seen today are caused by human activity. They are happening much faster than the natural climate variations of the past.

Prototype of an electric vehicle

Climate change is for real. The changes in global temperature and weather patterns seen today are caused by human activity. They are happening much faster than the natural climate variations of the past.

Globally, industries have started recognising this and are making the switch towards sustainable means of doing business and adopting technology with less environmental impact.

Responding to the problem, therefore, auto users worldwide are, speedily, replacing internal combustion engine-powered vehicles with Electric Vehicles (EVs), which generate no pollutant. Like dry season wild fire, the revolution is moving with speed.

EVs across the globe
Electric vehicles are a novel and eco-friendly technology designed to reduce man’s dependence on fossil fuel, and potentially a threat to the conventional fuel car market. This new technology has remained the toast of many countries of the world, but not in Nigeria.

For many developed countries, the switch from fossil fuel to cleaner and renewable sources of energy is ongoing and inevitable. Despite many obstacles, electric vehicles (EVs) are being relied on to help halt climate change.

Globally, the production of electric cars and hybrid electric vehicles has come with incredible speed and are getting more deeply rooted than ever.

In fact, they are operational in the economies of Asia, Europe and America.

The electric vehicles are flourishing in countries like: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, France, United States, Canada, among others.

With, perhaps, the exception of South Africa, Africa, including Nigeria, has remained mere observers in the array of the emerging revolutionary breakthroughs in the world of vehicle manufacturing.

An energy agency, DNV GL in its yearly Energy Transition Outlook, predicted that by 2032, electric vehicles will account for half of the global car sales and there will also be a rapid uptake for electrified buses in cities. By contrast, it expects hydrogen to increasingly play a role in long-distance and heavy trucking.

To most stakeholders, the fact that the world is accelerating the shift from internal combustion engines as power units for transportation to electric-powered vehicles means that the demand for hydrocarbons as a fuel source would decrease and supply could exceed demand and oil price could remain low for a very long time.

They however noted that, electricity to power electric vehicles would have to be generated by oil, gas, coal and renewables with oil and coal contribution reducing over time.

And from all indications, before the year 2020 runs out, Nigeria would officially join the rest of the world in embracing electric cars, courtesy of Stallion Motors, Nigeria’s leading auto assembler and franchisee of nine Global brands including Hyundai.

Recently, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Anant Badjatya, hinted of company’s plan to officially launch into the Nigerian market Hyundai – Kona, an Electric car regarded by European motoring journalists as world’s number one.

“Well-meaning and concerned people globally are urgently making moves to save our dear planet,” Badjatya explained.

“After operating successfully in Nigeria for over five decades, the least our company could give back to the country and by extension, the world is to be a leading pilot in steering the nation to the direction of clean energy use and reduction of emission.

“Not being dissuaded by the nation’s infrastructural challenges, one of our plans for this year is to introduce into the country EV and, in no distant future, embark on attitude change campaign for a clean environment in conjugation with Hyundai.

Versatile and powerful, the Hyundai KONA Electric will be the first All-Electric SUV in Nigeria. Its power packed performance will provide a thrilling driving experience with high acceleration over long distances. Driving range for Kona Electric is 482 km with an acceleration of (0-100kms) in 9.7 secs.

The ease of charging is unmatched, one can even plug it in at home or at work and charge it for 9.35 hrs for a full battery capacity. Hyundai Kona comes with a five years of battery warranty and 5 years of vehicle warranty. KONA Electric will change the way people think about going electric. It would make history as first EV to in Nigeria with local manufacturing.

Apart from initial cost of purchase, EVs attract minimal running cost. For instance, Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, has reportedly acquired his very first electric car, which happens to be Porsche Taycan, the one that Stallion Group plans to launch in Nigeria soon after Hyundai Kona.

Is Nigeria Ready?
While putting finishing touches to the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) for passage into law, the Federal Government of Nigeria, February last year, laid bare interest in EV technology by assigning University of Nigeria, Nsuka (UNN), University of Lagos, Usman Dan Fodio University and Metrological Institute for design and production of a made-in-Nigeria electric car.

Less than a year after (July 2019), UNN announced completion of an EV put together with 80 per cent local content.
Representing the federal government at the unveiling ceremony of the car, the Director General of National Automotive Design and Development Council,. Jelani Aliyu, did not only commend the institution for the achievement, but also expressed President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s resolve to support any company willing to invest in local manufacturing of electric vehicles.

Also in his keynote address at an annual event in Lagos, Aliyu described the EV technology as good news for Nigeria.

“To tap from the trend,” Aliyu explained, “We have met and discussed with both electric vehicle and charging station manufacturers in China and Germany towards the pilot program.”

It would also be recalled that Nigerian government, not long ago, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Volkswagen, Europe’s largest auto manufacturer and leading investor electric vehicles, to produce vehicles in Nigeria.
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Media Consultant and Public Opinion Analyst, Stanley Okereke, said electric vehicle is a welcome idea, but Nigeria needs to sincerely set the structures on the ground right before hollowing into it.

“Hybrid vehicle or cars running on rechargeable and renewable energy is just an excellent idea to run on but my question however is, are we in concrete terms ripe and ready for it?” he queried.

Okereke said electric vehicles have been considered to have attained a good and remarkable success in Europe, especially Norway, but there are “very many” challenges we have here that are obvious, which we have to deal with before we start off talks and possibly preparation in that angle.

Okereke who decried the electricity challenge in the country quizzed: “What is the average supply of light per day in an area you might even consider that electricity distribution companies are fair to? Answer to this question is crucial. What is the state of our turbines and facility in and around it currently in Nigeria? Knowing well that these are primarily where this power is being generated.”

Dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof Samuel Odewumi, said Nigeria is yet to wake up from her slumber for industrial revolution.

Odewumi said nature has its way of dragging those who refuse to walk.
“Whether we wake up to adopt “Green Technology” or not, the world will move on without us. I know we will be very sluggish in adopting for many reasons: educational technological, cultural, attitudinal, ignorance, superstitious beliefs, difficult research environment and poor governance.

“But the world is already on the move and sooner than expected, fossil fuel guzzling vehicles will gradually stop rolling out of the manufacturing plants. Just as coal fired engines became archaic.

He said: “Our government should fund research and innovation that will give us a seat at the high table of new economies. We have missed agric, industrial and digital revolutions. It’s time to wake up and join the latest revolution. It will shameful that Nigeria at the tropics with abundant intensity of solar radiation.

“Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind on this. Like every aspect of our national life, we are yet to put our acts together. We have the basics of this technology to drive a national green transportation agenda. I am sure that many universities in the country have gone very far in their research into this technology like UNN, BUK, ABU and UNILAG.

“So as far as adoption for consumption is concerned, you can be sure that it will soon become a status symbol by our egoistic elite as a form of show off. We are not thinking of joining the producer league. The process should start by encouraging the local efforts at producing Nigerian made Okada, Keke Marwa not to mention cars and buses,” he added.

Currently, Nigerian electricity consumers resident in accommodation categorised under R1 are charged only N4 per kilowatt. That implies, when Hyundai Kona goes on sale in Nigeria, its owner would incur only N316 (N4x79kWat) to get a full charge, if he or she plugs the car onto public power supply.

When Stallion Group eventually fulfils its plan in the next two months, Hyundai Kona, which around the world, is already being rated above its counterparts, in terms of performance, would make history as first EV to officially go on sale in Nigeria with local manufacturing.

And without doubt, if the world trend is talk and love for fast, powerful and easier-to-maintain automobiles that are fit for a green planet, Nigerians are ready and itching to join. And courtesy of Stallion Group, year 2020 could be the beginning.