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Rwanda welcomes electric VW

Four e-Golfs and one charging station were unveiled for the initial phase of the pilot project

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The Volkswagen brand has launched a pilot project in partnership with Siemens to test the feasibility of electric mobility in an African country.

The pilot project, which will form part of Volkswagen’s operations in Rwanda, was announced in th capital city, Kigali, this week by Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa and responsible for the Sub-Sahara Africa Region. He was joined at the announcement by the Prime Minister of Rwanda, Dr Edouard Ngirente.

During the pilot phase, four e-Golfs and one charging station will be introduced in Kigali. Volkswagen has signed a joint development agreement with Siemens to provide the charging infrastructure for the electric cars.

With the launch of the pilot project, Rwanda becomes the first African country to introduce a Volkswagen electric car.

“The success of our innovative and pioneering mobility solutions business has shown us that Rwanda has the potential to leapfrog the internal combustion engines into electric cars,” said Schäfer. “Rwanda has a young and progressive population that appreciates individual and modern mobility. Together with our development partner Siemens and with the support from the Government of Rwanda, Volkswagen wants to make the e-Golf pilot project in Rwanda a blueprint for electric mobility in Africa.”

Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO for Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa said: “Our partnership with Volkswagen on this project solidifies our commitment not only to Rwanda but to the East Africa region. By contributing towards shaping the African market for intelligent, adaptive infrastructure, while addressing skills challenges in this sector, Siemens is helping to build a more sustainable future for the people of Rwanda.”

The pilot e-Golfs will be added into the Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda fleet to provide customised mobility service.

The plan is to increase the number of the electric cars to 50 units and 15 charging stations, depending on the outcomes of the pilot project.

The drivers and technicians who will be working with the electric cars have received specialised training in preparation for launch of the pilot project.

“Africa’s youth need sustainable jobs and better prospects for a future in their home countries'” said Dr. Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. “Therefore, German development cooperation supports innovative ideas for vocational education and environmentally friendly mobility concepts for African cities. In this respect, initiatives such as Moving Rwanda are yet another step towards implementing the Marshall Plan with Africa.”

The electric mobility project was developed within the Moving Rwanda initiative, a cooperation between Volkswagen, Siemens, SAP and Inros Lackner and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. GIZ supported the e-mobility project by bringing together relevant partners from the private and public sector and by advising on the development benefits of the project.

The Moving Rwanda Initiative was established as A result of Volkswagen’s initial investment in Rwanda, which saw the launch of Africa’s first Integrated Mobility Solutions business in June 2018.

Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda offers mobility solutions services such as ride-hailing and corporate car sharing. The services are offered on the Move App, an innovative IT mobility solution which was developed by a local IT start-up company, Awesomity Lab. 

The services are offered using a fleet of vehicles assembled at Volkswagen Rwanda’s assembly facility in Kigali. By the end of 2019, Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda will have a fleet of more than 200 vehicles, consisting of Polo, Amarok, Teramont and Passat.

Move App has about 27,000 registered users. Over 59,500 rides have been completed in the ride-hailing service since the beginning of 2019.

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Car buyers to start abandoning fuel-power by 2025

Car buyers in the United States and Europe expect electric vehicles to become a viable alternative to fuel-powered cars in the next five years.

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A new report outlining consumer expectations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and their viability as replacements for traditional fuel-powered cars or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles suggests a massive shift beginning in 2025.

The conclusion emerges from a report by human behaviour and analytics firm Escalent, entitled The Future of BEV: How to Capture the Hearts and Minds of Consumers. It reveals the intent of many consumers in the United States and Europe to abandon ICE vehicles altogether, citing the improved infrastructure and range of BEVs.

The Future of BEV gives auto and mobility manufacturers a strategic view of the benefits of their products in the eyes of consumers and highlights the areas of opportunity for automakers to push the innovation boundaries of BEVs to spur broad adoption of the technology.

“While most buyers don’t plan to choose BEVs over gasoline-powered cars within the next five years, consumers have told us there is a clear intention to take BEVs seriously in the five years that follow,” says Mark Carpenter, joint managing director of Escalent’s UK office. “However, manufacturers will need to tap into the emotional value of BEVs rather than just the rational and functional aspects to seize on that intent and inspire broader consumer adoption.”

The study demonstrates a significant shift in consumers’ expectations that BEVs will become viable alternatives to—and competitors with—ICE vehicles over the coming decade. Though 70% of Americans plan to buy a gasoline-powered car within the next year, just 37% expect to make that same purchase in five to ten years. Similarly, while 50% of European consumers favour buying vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel in the near-term, that figure drops to just 23% in five to ten years.

At the same time, consumers on both sides of the Atlantic see BEV adoption rising to 36% in Europe and 16% in the US, with respondents also indicating intent to purchase hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars.

Infrastructure clearly continues to be one of the biggest barriers to adoption. While some work is being done in Europe as well as in the US, the data show there is a significant need for some players to take ownership if manufacturers want to move the needle on BEV adoption.

US and European consumers have stark differences in opinion as to which entities they believe are primarily responsible for providing BEV charging stations. American consumers consider carmakers (45%) the primary party responsible, followed by fuel companies, local government/transport authorities, and the national government in fourth. On the other hand, European consumers view the national government (29%) as the primary party responsible for providing BEV infrastructure, followed by carmakers, local government/transport authorities and fuel companies.

For a full copy of the report, visit https://landing.escalent.co/download-the-future-of-bev.

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Mercedes brings older models to the connected world

The Mercedes Me Adapter is designed to bring older Mercedes Benz models into the connected world, allowing one to keep a close eye on the car via a smartphone. SEAN BACHER installs a unit

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In this day and age, just about any device, from speakers to TVs to alarm systems, can be connected and controlled via a smartphone.

In keeping with this trend, Daimler Chrysler has launched a Mercedes Me Adapter – a system designed to connect your car to your phone.

The Mercedes Me Adapter comprises a hardware and software component. The hardware is an adapter that is no bigger than a match box and plugs into the OBD2 diagnostics socket under the car’s steering wheel column. 

The software component is the Mercedes Me app, which can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices. (See downloading instructions at the end of the review.)

Setting up

Before you can start using the Mercedes Me Adapter, you need to download the app and begin the registration process. This includes setting up an account, inputting the vehicle’s VIN number, the year it was manufactured and the model name – among many other details. This information is sent to Daimler Chrysler. It is advisable to get this done before heading off to Mercedes to have the adapter installed, as it takes quite some time getting all the details in.

The next step is locating your nearest Merc dealer to get the adapter installed. You have to produce the registration papers and a copy of your ID – something Mercedes neglects to mention on its website, or anywhere else, for that matter.

What it does

The Mercedes Me Adapter is designed to show the car’s vital statistics on your mobile device. On the home screen, information like parking time, odometer reading and fuel level is displayed.

Below that is information about your most recent journeys, such as the distance, time taken, departure address and destination address. Your driving style is also indicated in percentage – taking into account acceleration, braking and coasting.

A Start Cockpit button displayed on the home screen includes a range of widgets offering additional information, including where your car is parked – right down to the address – as well as battery voltage, total driving time, distance and driver score since the adapter was installed. A variety of other widgets can be added to the screen, allowing for complete customisation.

Many users have have pointed out that that there is no real point to the adapter. However it does offer benefits. Firstly, your trips can be organised into personal and business categories and then exported into a spreadsheet for tax purposes. Secondly, you can keep a very close eye on your fuel consumption, as it automatically measures how many litres you put in each time you visit the garage and the cost (the cost per litre must be entered manually so it can work out total refuelling costs). This is also quite beneficial in terms of working out how much fuel you go through, without keeping all the pesky slips when it comes to claiming at the end of the month.

Probably the most important benefit is that it monitors the engine, electrical, transmission and gearbox, sending notifications as soon as any faults are detected. A perfect example was encountered on a recent trip I made to Pretoria. Upon arriving, I received a notification that I needed to check my engine, with the Mercedes roadside assist number blinking and ready for me to dial.

The notification did not even show up on the actual fault detection system, except for the faint glow of the orange engine light, which I would never have noticed in the bright light. I immediately took it Mercedes and they diagnosed it as an intermittent thermostat error, which they said is fine for now but that I have to keep an eye on the engine temperature.

Conclusion

The convenience of easily being able to export mileage for tax purposes and refuelling stops as well as being able to locate your car at anytime should be more than enough to qualify it as a pretty useful companion for your car.

Add to this the fact that it is completely free from Mercedes, and that makes it an absolute no-brainer. Should you not like it, simply unplug the adapter and uninstall the app. The only thing lost is half an hour while the Mercedes technician sets it up, ensures it is working and gives you a crash course on how to operate the app.

The adapter will only work in Mercedes Benz models from 2002 onwards. No warranties are lost, as the adapter does not increase the car’s performance and is a genuine Mercedes part.

2017 models and above do not need the adapter as everything is installed when the car is manufactured. All one needs to do is install the app and pair it with the car.

Get the Mercedes me iOS app here

Get the Mercedes Me Android app here

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