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Kemet Automotive's Vision for Electrifying Africa's Future

Published December 25, 2023
7 months ago

The African automotive market is on the cusp of a transformation, and Kemet Automotive is charging ahead with its vision to pioneer the electric vehicle (EV) industry across the continent. At the recent 2023 Intra-Africa Trade Fair in Cairo, Egypt, the discussions underscored the potential for growth in the EV sector despite the challenges posed by current economic and infrastructural realities.

The South African EV market faces an uphill challenge due to the high costs associated with the import tariffs placed on EVs compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts. Yet, the visionaries behind Kemet Automotive — Rui Mendes Da Silva and Nissi Ogulu — are undeterred. Building on the foundation in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Kemet Automotive is setting its sights not just on creating an African EV but on reshaping the entire landscape of sustainable mobility.

Co-chief executive and co-founder Nissi Ogulu imparts a passionate vision for electric vehicles fueled by her experience as a former Jaguar Land Rover engineer. Kemet Automotive is more than just a business; it is a mission dedicated to bringing sustainable and affordable electric mobility to Africa and beyond.

In terms of expansion, Kemet Automotive is looking to set up manufacturing plants across the continent, including Senegal and Ghana, with eyes on other African nations as demand surges. This strategy aims not only to slash prohibitive import taxes but also to stimulate local economies, generate employment, and nurture African pride in homegrown innovation.

The company is in the conceptual phase, featuring six electric models designed with sustainability and African identity at their core. From the Gezo tricycle to the premium Mansa SUV, Kemet Automotive is catering to a variety of consumer needs and aspirations. While South Africa is not excluded from potential markets, specifics remain to be seen.

To bolster charging infrastructure, Kemet Automotive understands the necessity of partnerships. The company has already begun to form alliances, including with EB Manufacturing from the United States, to solidify its manufacturing and distribution pipelines.

With a goal to introduce its first car in 2027, Kemet Automotive promises a range of up to 500km on a single charge — a significant benchmark for EVs in the African market. The anticipated rapid recharge time of roughly 1.5 hours using a supercharger further aligns Kemet's offerings with global industry leaders.

Perhaps most notably, Kemet's proposed base price of approximately $25,000 — especially affordable within the current market — could signal a tipping point for wider EV adoption in South Africa and beyond.

Kemet Automotive isn't just selling a car; it's pitching a dream where robust, high-quality electric vehicles are within reach for the average African consumer. In a market with potential front-runners like the upcoming JAC T9, considerations for local preferences, such as a bakkie design, also reflect Kemet's inclusive approach.

This innovative drive by Kemet Automotive doesn't just herald the expansion of the automotive industry but also suggests a more eco-conscious and economically accessible future for Africa, poised to navigate the terrain with clean, sustainable energy.

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