Yesterday, Uganda unveiled their first home-made hybrid car – the Kiira EV SMACK in Kenya.

The car is such a beauty that Kenyans have been wondering where that leaves our own Mobius trucks. So much to the extent that Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko had to tell us to stop laughing at ourselves.

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To get a feel of what we’re talking about, here are the two vehicles.

Mobius

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Kiira EV Smack

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The Ugandans have some more pretty awesome designs lined up.

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The Ugandan car should be an easy winner right..? wrong.

What sets it apart is obviously its hybrid nature. You can charge or fuel it. Theoretically, that should be amazing, but when you look at how things are, it will be probably another decade before we Africans can build the infrastructure for that and start to fully adopt it. The western world is also yet to fully adopt this.

With that in mind, you are left to wonder, what did the Ugandans hope to achieve? Business or Innovation?

Since this is a project by Makerere University, we can assume the latter. However, they’re also looking at the business side.

While speaking at the Nairobi launch, coordinator Ms Miriam Mukasa said that they are seeking about KSh30 billion to build an assembly line in Jinja, and hope to mass produce in 2018.

“The reason why we are having a high profile launch is to attract investors from East African region. We are looking for collaboration because it’s an expensive venture. We are looking at $300 million assembly line in Jinja… This vehicle is a prototype and we expect to go to mass production by 2018,”

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kiira5Kiira Motors logo

Assuming everything goes as planned and mass production begins in 2018, the Kiira EV Smack or any of the 19 models they plan to design between now and then, will still be a very difficult sell.

Mobius will definitely have an upper hand in lots of ways.

The most obvious is the price.

According to Launch coordinator Ms Mukasa, the car will cost approximately Sh2.6 million. That is nearly triple the Sh950,000 Mobius is going for.

Kenyans and East Africans in general are not big buyers of brand new cars. Second hand imports from Japan are considered just as good and come at a fraction the cost. In fact, the biggest buyer of new cars in the country is the government.

I doubt patriotism will play a part in convincing you to spend Sh2 million more on a car that is not entirely proven. Of course Mobius will also be a victim of poor brand recognition, but at least their low price gives a stronger incentive.

mob1The Mobius two on a test drive

It is pretty obvious that Mobius studied their market, and did well to avoid the mighty Toyota or Isuzu. Ugly as many say it is, the mobius truck looks like strong metal and not the weak sheets modern vehicles are made of. That, my friend does not look like a car you can dent.

If that’s not understanding your market, I don’t know what is. The Mobius truck is also purposely built for African roads.

What about the functionalities of the Mobius and the Kiira?

kiira9Heshan de silva at Sankara launch – Via Robert Alai

The Kiira battery is designed to draw about 50-amps which will go for about 80 kms before recharge. I was not good in Physics, but I’m made to understand that if you’re using your home power, KPLC will be your worst enemy every end month.

Again, the battery takes 4 hours to get fully charged… I think I’ll pass, my patience has limits.

In short, before charging infrastructure is developed throughout East Africa, the Kiira hybrid will be a practical joke.

The Mobius has a maximum speed of 160km/h on a five-speed manual gearbox. It has a capacity of eight passengers and a load capacity of 625 kilogrammes.

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kiira10The Kiira EV Smack at Sankara Hotel, Nairobi

Finally, Mobius has the all important head start that may help it be the market leader. Kiira is still looking for funds to build their assembly line, while Mobius Assembly line is operational in Thika, and continues to attract investor billions right, left and centre; the latest being the Chandaria family.

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mob4Mobius Motors Headquarters, Nairobi

Furthermore, if the Mobius truck flops, they can quickly design a new prototype, test it and even mass produce it.

Here’s the assembly process of Kiira and Mobius as it currently stands.

Kiira EV Smack

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Mobius

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