PICS: Home-grown electric pick-up vehicle ready to roll
Gauteng - Home-grown innovator Nhlanhla Mazibuko aims to kick-start Africa’s electric vehicle (EV) revolution after his company designed Africa’s first battery-electric pick-up bakkie.
The Vaal-based Mazibuko Motor Company has cemented itself in the history books as the local company that designed Africa’s first battery-electric pick-up bakkie called the Mazibuko M1B.
The company is a battery-electric and technology company which develops its own electric vehicles, including technologies used for autonomous driving, battery storage and power generation.
Founder and chief executive Mazibuko told The Star that he initially aspired to become a civil engineer but realised that his passions lay in technology and clean energy.
“The climate change problem is something of today and not tomorrow,” the 29-year-old said.
He said not much was being done in the electric car space locally, “so I decided to get into it as someone who also loves cars”. He added that he wanted to jump-start Africa’s electric vehicle (EV) revolution.
The Mazibuko Motor Company started growing in 2019 and bloomed in July 2020, when the company was launched officially.
Mazibuko said the company focused on battery-electric vehicles and clean energy. Its vision was to see Africa move away from internal combustion engine vehicles to clean battery-electric vehicles while creating a carbon-zero energy system.
“When I read books and hear people like Elon Musk talking about clean energy and the problems that the world is facing, my passion grows. There are so many problems in the world. As an entrepreneur you can only do so much, but clean energy is one of those things that can’t wait any more,” he said.
The M1B pick-up was developed using a platform that combines e-axle (electric motor, power electronics, and transmission), electrical and electronic architecture, thermal management solutions, a scalable battery pack and a flexi frame.
Mazibuko said the bakkie would operate in the same way as internal combustion engine vehicles except that it had two pedals (brake and accelerator pedals) like an automatic vehicle.
“It’s almost the same. You just charge it, whether at home or a public charger, to 100% and then you just go ... It’s not really different from what we have right now, the only difference is that we’re moving into cleaner energy,” he said.
The biggest challenge facing the company was funding and capital, he said.
“South Africa has a lot of skilled people because we manufacture a lot of cars that are exported to Europe and other regions. We have skills in abundance, but the problem is getting the right source of funding,” he said.
The company is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to help the innovators work on the vehicle’s development and hopefully attract investors.
Mazibuko said the company was currently working on fine-tuning the M1B’s design to make the bakkie as predictive-ready as possible, with the assistance of a large global automotive supplier.
“We are going to refine our design so what you see now will be slightly different to how the prototype or pre-production car is going to look. In the next month we are going to start the pre-production of the prototype car.”