SA’s own electric donkey
GridCars aims to build shared personal commuters
“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.”
The electric donkey offers energy efficient transport for people or cargo weighing up to 250 kg at 7c/km.
EVE is an in-line two-seater electric car that aims to cut traffic jams down to size.