Alive 2 Green was invited to attend the launch of the all new Mercedes C350e Plug-in Hybrid and Mercedes S500e Plug-in Hybrid at the company’s manufacturing plant in East London.
After a short presentation we were taken on a plant tour of the state of the art factory where the C-Class is built in Left hand and Right hand drive configurations for local and export markets. The C350e Plug-In Hybrid is also built here.
Following this we had the opportunity to drive both cars on the highway from East London to Port Elizabeth. The C350e Plug-in Hybrid is a further milestone to zero emission mobility and follows the S500e Plug-in Hybrid and is the first with a 4 cylinder engine. Power output is 205kw with torque of 600Nm and a certified consumption of 2.1l/100km. This fuel consumption is managed by the intelligent drive system that anticipates energy management taking into account the destination and traffic situation.
The C350e can run for 31km in all electric mode, but the “Intelligent HYBRID” system ensures the High voltage battery is always only charged enough to take advantage of recuperation opportunities provide by the route and terrain set by the on-board navigation system, which constantly gives feed back to the engine depending on the upcoming terrain, up to 7 kilometres in advance. The electric motor automatically boosts the combustion engine to discharge the battery enough to store the expected recuperation energy.
The HV battery can also be charged by plugging it into a normal wall socket at home or office.
The road to the halfway stop Oceana Lodge near Port Alfred gave us ample opportunities to check out the performance of both models in their various spec and operating modes.
Hybrid Mode: this provides optimum use of the combustion engine and electric motor.
E-Mode: this uses the electric motor only, ideal for running around town.
E-Save Mode: preserves the High-Voltage Battery for future use.
Charge: Electric operation is stopped and the combustion engine charges the HV Battery.
Another feature is Radar based recuperation. A double impulse on the haptic accelerator pedal warns the driver to take his foot off the pedal as the car in front is approaching too fast. This is done by a double vibration on the pedal. If the driver still continues to keep his foot on the accelerator a proximity warning light will appear on the instrument panel and when the driver brakes the seat belt will automatically tension holding the driver and front seat passenger in the seat. Once the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal the combustion engine will switch off and be disconnected from the drive train.
Both cars have a host of safety and style and comfort features expected in these state of the art cars, and are the hallmark of the Mercedes Benz marque.
The Mercedes Benz C350e costs R804 900 whilst the S500e retails for R1 875 500.
“After the launch of the Kiira EV — an electric car and Kiira EV SMACK — East Africa’s first hybrid vehicle, Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) on Sunday did the first test drive of its solar-powered bus at Mandela Stadium in Wakiso.
The bus, code-named ‘Kayoola’, is a 35-passenger bus with power banks, which give it a range of 80km when fully charged. It also has solar panels on its roof, which give it a daily range extension of 12km.
“This is typical for the Ntinda, Bukoto, Kampala Road and Nakawa Ring Road, and it can be done for eight rounds a day,” said Paul Musasizi, the KMC chief executive officer.
Musasizi said the project which started in 2011, was initiated to explore the possibilities of using solar technology to support the mass transportation that Ugandans commonly use.
“We wanted to investigate those opportunities, particularly because Uganda being one of the 13 countries positioned along the Equator, gives us about eight hours of significant solar energy that can be harvested.
“Interestingly, these 13 countries along the Equator do not include the US, China, Germany, UK or South Africa that are the major car manufacturers in the world,” Musasizi noted.
It is against this background that the Kayoola solar bus project was meticulously executed.
The chassis is made of steel, its aisle of sheet metal and it also has pipe elements and square sections. Its seats are also made of steel and covered in cream leather.
Musasizi said 90% of the material was from Roofings Uganda Ltd, except for the synthetic leather, tyres, the steering wheel and software that were imported. All white, the bus has a crested crane emblem at the front.
“The development of the Kayoola Solar Bus represents our commitment to championing the progressive development of local capacity for vehicle technology innovation, a key ingredient for institutionalising a sustainable vehicle manufacturing industry in Uganda,” said Prof. Tickodri Togboa, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and Technology, while officiating at the inaugural media expo.
He said the vehicle, now an indispensable element of our daily lives, will provide an alternative locally-sourced, eco-friendly public transport solution.
“A regional standard has been raised in technological environmental sustainability. The Kayoola sets a precedent and inspirational trend for the technological future of urban mobility for the East and Central African region,” said Togboa.
At a glance
The Kiira Motors project is an industrial development intervention supported through the Presidential initiative for Science and Technology Innovations.
The project is aimed at establishing vehicle manufacturing capabilities in Uganda for pickups, SUVs, sedans, light and medium duty trucks and buses. This is expected to transform Uganda into a middle-income economy by 2040 through providing a platform with high intellectual convergence of disciplines.
Its official launch shall take place on February 16 at Kampala Serena Hotel and it will be presided over by President Yoweri Museveni.
Musasizi said the first 305 cars from KMC are expected to be rolled off the assembly line by 2018, if all the necessary infrastructure and human resources are put in place. Fifty thousand more units will be produced by 2039. On May 15 2014, the Kiira EV project received 100 acres of land at the Jinja industrial and business park and its capacity is 60,000 units.Many people took to social media to celebrate the innovation.
Asuman Balaba said it was a good initiative and hoped it would be affordable for Ugandans to buy.
Ronald Kiwalabye said: “This is amazing. You have done Uganda proud.”
Enos Shakoma said much as the bus looks good, he wondered whether it could stand the poor roads in some parts of the country.
On the other hand, Ian Ken was pleased with the neutral colour of the bus.
Nissan and BMW will collaborate to advance electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) adoption in South Africa.
Nissan South Africa and BMW Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly plan and build a national grid of EV and PHEV vehicle charging stations for use by both Nissan and BMW vehicles.
“Our introduction of the 100% electric Nissan LEAF in 2013 was part of Nissan’s global drive to advance sustainable mobility and to grow the market for zero-emission vehicles. With this in mind we believe our partnership with BMW SA is a sound investment to create a future-
proof automobile industry,” said Mike Whitfield, MD of Nissan South Africa.
Mr Tim Abbott, Managing Director of BMW South Africa says industry wide cooperation is the key to the future success of electric vehicles. “A key imperative of our strategy is to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is rolled out to help increase consumer confidence in the viability of electric vehicles. We therefore believe that in order for the introduction and expansion of electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to be successful in this market, we need to work together. Our partnership with Nissan is the first step towards that.”
The agreement will see BMW SA and NSA roll out direct current fast-charging stations that are equipped with both the Combined Charging System 2 used by BMW’s electric and plug-in hybrid models and the Charge de Move system plug standards used by Nissan’s 100% electric LEAF.
The national grid of charging stations will also make use of smaller alternating current type vehicle chargers in certain regions, both manufacturers said. As part of the newly signed agreement, these chargers will be equipped with ‘Type 2′ sockets that allow the connection of all EVs and PHEVs.
Planning and building a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be managed by a joint task team comprising executives from both manufacturers.
BMW SA introduced its EV and PHEV models, the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 in March this year, while the LEAF was introduced in South Africa in 2013.
Last month, Joburg suburb Parkhurst said it aims to install electric car charging points as part of a Go-Green renewable energy initiative.
The suburb is planning to install four charging stations initially and is working with the City of Joburg on a way forward.
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