R/€ = 14.98Change: 0.01
R/$ = 14.04Change: 0.06
Au 1079.32 $/ozChange: 3.26
Pt 845.50 $/ozChange: 3.00
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?

And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters About Us
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
May 28, 2010

GridCars' electric vehicle project hopes for transport revolution

© Reuse this

Electric vehicles are not new to South Africa.

Carel Snyman, who headed up power utility Eskom’s electric vehicle programme for many years, says his team developed a prototype electric vehicle which was exhibited in France. The Kruger Park also made use of several electric-game driving vehicles, to name but a few examples.

Ironically, the reason the now short-on-juice Eskom started the programme, was that it wanted to stimulate electricity demand, especially during off-peak periods when the electricity tap was still open, but nobody used it.

Eskom terminated its electric vehicle project in 2002, as the oil price tanked to $10 a barrel, and the hype grew around hydrogen as the fuel of the future.

However, now it seems the plug, charge and drive electric car, once upon a time insinuated to have been killed by the oil companies, have won the battle as the technology to take over the immediate crown from the internal combustion engine, with several major car manufacturers pushing their mass-produced electric vehicles onto the market, starting from this year.

Again, ironically enough, the fickle oil-price was the midwife for this revolution, as it hurtled towards $200 a barrel in 2008. (Talk is rife of the black stuff again reaching this level around 2012.)

So, where does this leave South Africa?

Well, there is the Joule electric vehicle, being developed by Cape Town based Optimal Energy, and the carefully worded promises from existing car manufacturers that electric vehicles will start arriving in the country when the market is ready.

But there is also other ways to tap into the market, says Snyman.

Snyman and business partner, technology evangelist and Advanced Energy Foundation CEO Winstone Jordaan, are working to get a concept called GridCars off the ground.

With a rather cavalier disregard for styling norms and the pride and ego-extension often associated with vehicle ownership, Snyman and Jordaan want commuters to buy the use of a three-wheel electric car like they would pay for a cellphone contract: they pay only for what they use.

“If you use the car only every now and then, you pay more per kilometre, and if you use the car a lot, you pay less per kilometre,” adds Jordaan.

In practice it will mean that a business director, for example, will drive her own car to the Pretoria Gautrain station, travel by train to Sandton, where she will then pick up a small electric vehicle from a pool of similar vehicles and use it to reach all of her appointments.

She does not even have to return the vehicle to Sandton, but drive it onwards to, say, another vehicle pool in Rosebank, and leave it there to get on the Gautrain rapid-link again, back to Pretoria.

The car will not require a key, but will make use of a sophisticated identification system which will log her fingerprint, and record the mileage she accumulates, charging her accordingly.

Typically, she will buy a contract for the amount of kilometres she will log on a GridCar every month, at around R2 000 to R3 000 a month.

“The car is a three-wheeler,” says Snyman. “It is basically a one-plus-one seater, with room for a little bit of luggage.”

The design for the vehicle has already been completed by an university abroad.

Jordaan and Snyman remain mum on the identity of this tertiary institution.

“We developed the business concept,” notes Jordaan. “We looked at 60 vehicles, and finally chose this particular one – obviously we want to make a few changes.”

The vehicle the Snyman/Jordaan team is considering will weigh between 300 kg and 340 kg, battery included, and will have a top speed of 80 km/h. It will not use a steering wheel, but a ‘joystick’, also called drive-by-wire.

“We will conduct crash tests, and we will consider including airbags. We still have to homologate the vehicle. The South African Bureau of Standards currently classifies it as a motorcycle,” says Jordaan.

Homologate refers to the process of ensuring a vehicle adheres to a country’s  regulatory standards.

The aim is also for the car to be of modular design – a nice word for a Lego-type design where ‘blocks’ can be added and removed while the basic concept remains the same – which will allow for the implementation of new technology as and when it becomes available.

Lithium-ion is the flavour of the month in terms of batteries, for example, but as computers and cellphones and other bits of technology keep on reminding us, the future is not set in stone.

The car being electric means that it saves on emissions, and running costs for GridCars.

Optimal Energy intends for the Joule to be serviced only every 40 000 km, for example, as it has so much less moving parts than an internal combustion engine, which requires a peek under the hood every 15 000 km.

“But, always remember, this is about more than the car,” emphasises Snyman. “It is a completely new transport system we want to introduce.”

Jordaan says the aim is to have two prototype cars running around in South Africa by the end of the year. This will cost around R12-million to build.

The second phase of the project is build 30 cars, which will then be made available to a selected group of people by the end of next year. This will cost around R40-million.

The team is currently looking for a black economic empowerment partner to take equity in GridCars.

Following this – as well as having some other investors sign on the dotted line – the plan is to put in place all the required infrastructure.

The duo wants the cars to be build locally, in Gauteng, and is having exploratory talks with the government’s Automotive Industry Development Centre to achieve this.

Jordaan indicates that the Gauteng government has showed interest in the project, however, at this point it is still only talk.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Transport & Logistics News
Max Hussman inside the Falcon 7X cabin
Business aviation company BSS Africa, part of the Elegance Group, has, in cooperation with renowned French group Dassault Aviation, brought a Dassault Falcon 7X executive jet to South Africa as part of its marketing strategy. “Our aim with this introduction to the...
The Baleno
Suzuki Auto South Africa (SA) will introduce a new commercial vehicle to the local market in 2016. The introduction of the four-door Baleno hatchback is also on the cards, with no launch date confirmed yet.   Suzuki Auto SA MD Yukio Sato says the commercial vehicle...
South African motoring fans will have to permanently bid farewell to the Johannesburg International Motor Show. Originally scheduled to take place in October this year, the biennial event was cancelled in May, owing to rising costs.
Article contains comments
Latest News
Maurice Radebe
Imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to initiate the greater use of gas in South Africa’s currently coal-dominated electricity generation. Anticipated is the establishment of infrastructure at South African ports, such as Saldanha Bay, Coega or Richards...
As South Africa battles water restrictions precipitated by the El Niño phenomenon, aged infrastructure, above-average temperatures, below-average rainfall and climate change, industry stakeholders have called for a collaborative water stewardship approach that will...
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, has the potential to completely change the relationships between individual consumers, professional designers and manufacturers. So argued Loughborough University Reader in Computer Aided Product Design Dr Ian...
Airbus Defence and Space: Military Aircraft has highlighted that its A330 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) has significant commonalities with the Airbus A330-200 commercial airliner, upon which it is based. The South African Air Force (SAAF) once operated a fleet of...
Financial services provider Nedbank launched the second edition of its Carbon Footprinting Guide earlier this month, which is aimed at demystifying carbon footprint approaches and help readers grasp the main concepts of carbon measuring, monitoring, reporting and...
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Caterpillar’s first backhoe loader. This also coincides with the worldwide release of its latest-generation F2 series backhoe loader, which was launched at supply chain services company Barloworld Logistics’ Big Dig Day in...
BARRY DWOLATZKY The CPD programme provides advanced skills required locally, and provides a stepping stone to Wits University’s Master of Engineering degree in software engineering
A shortage of software engineers is leading to fewer information technology (IT) projects in private and public sector organisations. This also places a dampener on the economy, as IT is an integral part of business and civil service, says University of Witwatersrand...
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96