Rwanda has become the first African country to launch Volkswagen’s electric car, the e-Golf. The launch on Tuesday October 29, is part of a pilot project led partly by Volkswagen and Siemens.
Speaking during the launch, Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that there is an interest among Rwandans to prioritize environmental protection.
“Rwandans are becoming increasingly aware that protecting the environment is a top priority. We are confident that the introduction of environmentally friendly transport services will accelerate the reduction of air pollution levels,” Ngirente said.
Among other avenues, he said that firms could play a role include building smart green cities, smart transport facilities and services as well as use of ICT.
“In our National Strategy for Transformation, Rwanda prioritizes development of a climate-resilient low carbon economy. This includes building smart green cities, smart transport facilities and services as well as use of ICT and digital solutions for improved service delivery,” he added.
The innovation he said could enable Rwanda substitute expensive fuel imports with electricity generated in the country.
According to Volkswagen Rwanda, the moving Rwanda Initiative will use four e-Golfs and one charging station for the initial phase of the pilot project. Other 16 additional cars are expected to be added to the market with 15 charging stations spread out across Kigali.
The Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen’s operations in Rwanda, Michaella Rugwizangoga, says the cars are fully electric, not hybrid.
A fully charged electric car can cover up to 230 kilometres in ideal conditions. However, the distance is subject to conditions such as altitude, terrain and gradient among other factors.
Africa Tembelea has also learnt that, prior to today’s launch, Siemens, alongside the City of Kigali and Rwanda Energy Group, conducted an assessment of the city’s grid to establish whether it can support innovation.
They said that the findings showed that the city’s grid was adequate to support the charging stations at the launch and consequent phases of the pilot project.
The pilot project will involve data collection and analysis on aspects such as performance of the electric cars, reception by consumers, consumer trends and suitable conditions for the cars.
Nadege Gaju, the Head of Sales and Marketing, said that it’s this data that will inform the consequent rollout of the project’s other phases.
This pilot project, is part of Volkwagen’s global ambitions of phasing out the combustion engines in the next decade as the firm seeks greener ambitions.
Volkswagen In Rwanda
Volkswagen entered the Rwandan market in June 2018 to assemble and also introduce a mobility solution.
The firm which has set its target at 5,000 vehicles from its Kigali assembly plant in Rwanda, has already started producing “Made in Rwanda” vehicle brands.
The plant has produced “Polo” brand vehicles, but due to demand, the manufacturer has also produced other models including Passat, Tiguan, Amarok and Teramont. The Terramont model, which has the highest demand in the Rwandan market retails at $48,156 while Volkswagen Amarok (the pick-up truck) goes for $44,559.
VW Polo model, the most affordable of the locally-assembled option costs $23,881 [all taxes included]; the Volkswagen Passat retails at $37,674 while Tiguan, which is a sports utility vehicle, is sold at $37,719.
Volkswagen Rwanda’s model involves Semi Knocked Down kits during assembly. A semi-knocked-down kit is whereby partially assembled parts and shipped in and then all put together for sale to customers.