SA’s own elec­tric don­key

Grid­Cars aims to build shared per­sonal com­muters

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN • For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.grid­cars.co.za or call 012 349 2462.

“We can’t do this alone, we are look­ing for pro­gres­sive com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als that would be pre­pared to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

AT the Coun­cil for Sci­en­tific and In­dus­trial Re­search in Pre­to­ria, a vi­sion by two men is on the brink of de­liv­er­ing South Africa’s first elec­tric car specif­i­cally de­signed for the needs of city com­muters.

Win­stone Jor­daan told Wheels he and Carel Sny­man had cre­ated com­pany, Grid­Cars, in 2009.

The aim was not to cre­ate another range of fast Tesla cars or Nissan Leaf fam­ily ve­hi­cles, but shared per­sonal com­muters that could in­te­grate seam­lessly with public trans­port net­works.

Sny­man’s main back­ground is in the de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric cars and con­ver­sions, while Jor­daan’s dom­i­nant back­ground is in IT, the two core skills needed in mod­ern com­muter ve­hi­cles.

The pair’s ex­pe­ri­ence in elec­tric cars date back to the mid-nineties, with a con­verted Opel Corsa bakkie that could do 0-100 km/h in eight sec­onds us­ing 100 kW of al­ter­na­tive cur­rent from 28 12volt bat­ter­ies. They have also built elec­tric bikes and a 20-seat elec­tric game view­ing ve­hi­cle. Their cur­rent cars are a lot more prag­matic. Jor­daan told Wheels they are ready to start selling their “pipe car”, called eS­panBoni for elec­tric work­ing don­key, to in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment.

This sturdy work­horse is a three-wheeler that pro­vides trans­port at 7c/km for peo­ple or cargo weigh­ing up to 250 kg. The top speed is 45 km/h. The elec­tric don­key is es­ti­mated to sell for R35 000 on vol­ume pro­duc­tion, but is ex­pected to launch at R55 000 for 2015/16

Grid­Cars is still look­ing to launch EVE later next year. This is a sleek three-wheeler with two seats in­line and aims to pro­vide a con­nec­tion be­tween home and work­place and public trans­port with­out wast­ing one Watt.

Depend­ing on the bat­ter­ies, EVE will have an ex­pected range of 80 to 300 km.

Grid­Cars plans to of­fer this mo­bil­ity ser­vice for less than any small car’s to­tal cost of own­er­ship in the mar­ket to­day. Com­po­nents will be cen­trally pro­duced in high vol­umes and cars as­sem­bled at dis­trib­uted places, close to mar­ket for rental ser- vice and main­te­nance op­ti­mi­sa­tion.

While the IT is in place to in­te­grate EVE with the net­work of things and a driver’s dairy through a smart­phone, Jor­daan said con­sid­er­able work still needs to be done for the fi­nal in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and in­no­va­tion in ar­eas such as wind­shield wipers, door han­dles, air bags and locks.

Jor­daan said the world sits at a tip­ping point. “We need new so­lu­tions to se­ri­ous chal­lenges. We need rad­i­cal change to our beaten tracks that is only lead­ing to our own de­struc­tion.”

He said Grid­Cars are call­ing for part­ners in their vi­sion­ary ven­ture. “We can’t do this alone, we are look­ing for pro­gres­sive com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als that would be pre­pared to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties. Although we have a lot of ideas, peo­ple and busi­ness are typ­i­cally closer to the prob­lems that we need to solve, so these col­lab­o­ra­tions are es­sen­tial.

“We need for­ward think­ing cus­tomers, since the mar­ket is small, we have to be ag­gres­sive in se­cur­ing strate­gic cus­tomers that will com­mit to grow­ing with us and to­gether es­tab­lish­ing this mar­ket.”

PHOTO: GRID­CARS

The elec­tric don­key of­fers energy ef­fi­cient trans­port for peo­ple or cargo weigh­ing up to 250 kg at 7c/km.

PHOTO: GRID­CARS

EVE is an in-line two-seater elec­tric car that aims to cut traf­fic jams down to size.

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