A decade ago, students from Uganda's Makerere University participated in a vehicle design competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aiming to build a more efficient car. They learned a lot, then returned home, but over time that passion for car design never faded.
Today, it forms the basis of Uganda's own Kiira Motors Corporation, which has been headed up by a former teacher at the university, Paul Isaac Musasizi. The young car company aims to bring new gas-electric hybrid vehicles to the streets of Uganda…and plans to produce them locally.
The company's original prototype—the small Kiira EV (pictured below)—first arrived in 2011. Since then, the company has continued in the prototyping process, and its latest development is the Kiira EV Smack, a compact five-seater sedan.
According to The East African, the plug-in hybrid EV Smack functions like most modern hybrids. It provides power to its front wheels, using both a small gasoline engine and a bank of batteries. In electric-only mode, top speed is limited to 50 miles per hour, while hybrid drive raises that figure to 87 mph.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Kiira Motors is currently seeking an investment of $400 million to push the the company from prototype to full-fledged commercial production. So far, the company has sourced $51 million with government help, and has secured 100 acres of land for a new factory outside of the capital city, Kampala, to produce the vehicles.
If all goes to plan, the Kiira passenger cars and vans will roll off the production line by 2018. The expected price of the Kiira EV Smack? Around $20,000.