Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

by Maurice Magorane

A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors’ electric bus was displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda’s capital.

Kayoola is the brand name for the new bus, which is powered by solar panels on its roof.

It seats 35 passengers and its maker hopes the Kayoola will become the first public bus in Africa to be powered by the sun.

The engines of these electrically-powered buses are completely silent, said Mario Obuwa, the chief engineer of the project.

“This bus, there’s actually no engine. What is driving the bus is a motor, a traction motor, which is being run by a battery and the battery banks are the ones that are linked to the solar system that’s on the roof. So we have the battery that is driving the motor and that gives us a full range of 80 kilometers on full charge. And then the solar panels come to supplement the extra mileage so it adds an extra kilometer to the total,” said Obuwa.

The Kayoola bus can be recharged using solar power or connected to an electric power source. Best of all, it does not emit harmful CO2 into the atmosphere.

“The systems are fully run on green energy so things to do [with] polluting the environment which ultimately will affect us /// and that’s the reason why you would work on such a products because in the future we’re looking at sustainable and green energy,” said Obuwa.

This solar-powered bus also helps save money on petrol by relying 100% on abundant, renewable sunlight.

Moses Kalule Waswa, chief engineer of the technical team for the Kayoola bus, said the solar bus is as powerful as any other.

“The difference between this Kayoola bus, the solar bus and these other buses is that they are the ones that are using fuel. This one is using batteries. But as you are driving when you are accelerating, you can tell that it’s powerful like these other buses,” said Waswa.

Ugandan authorities say the Kayoola bus can help solve Kampala’s traffic jams.

“The more options we [have], we believe that it will help a lot in the issue of congestion,” said one official.

The price of the prototype bus is estimated at more than $140,000. If this model can be mass produced, the price will drop and it will sell for around $55,000 each. However, before the Kayoola bus is out on Ugandan roads customers have to be patient. There hasn’t been an official date set for its release.

This post first appeared on VOA News

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