Chief Executive Officer of Solar Taxi, a Ghanaian electric vehicles (EV) company, Jorge Appiah has hinted that beginning from next year the company will start assembling electric cars in Ghana.
Speaking on 21 Minutes with KKB, he said currently the company assembles electric motorbikes and tricycles in Ghana, which are patronized heavily by delivery service companies. According to him, the Ghanaian engineers at Solar Taxi, 90 percent of whom are women, design the motorbike and tricycle models, import the components and assemble them at the company’s plants in Accra and Kumasi.
This comes at a time when Ghana government, through the energy ministry, is leading the charge to ensure that is ready to welcome electric vehicles into the transportation system. The energy ministry and its stakeholders recently held the maiden EV conference in Ghana to set the tone for an EV industry in Ghana.
The Solar Taxi boss noted that electric vehicles are fast becoming the new normal and the company wants to ensure that Ghanaians and Africans at home are not left far behind; so, they have designed schemes that would enable Ghanaians to easily buy, lease or rent electric vehicles. According to him, the company runs outright sale, lease to own, and long-term rental schemes for people who want to own and or rent electric vehicles.
Jorge Appiah said the prices of their cars range from GH¢90,000 to GH¢300,000 depending on what the customer wants, adding that it makes better economic sense to buy a brand-new EV than to buy an imported home-used secondhand fuel/diesel car that will cost a lot of fuel to run.
“An overwhelming majority of our clients choose EV over petrol/diesel cars based on the economics – because if you buy an electric vehicle today, you will be saving up to 90 percent of what you spend on fuel every month. So if you spend GH¢1,000 on fuel every month, EV will save you GH¢900 and you would spend only GH¢100 a month to run the car,” he stated.
And the savings, he said, could even get to as high as 98 percent a month, if you invest into a solar hub, where a solar charging system is mounted in your house to charge your vehicle daily. Currently, the EV market is a young one in Ghana, and it now picking up, but Jorge Appiah believes with government policy intervention in the areas of infrastructural support and tax rebates for both players and consumers, EVs mainstreaming can be fast-tracked.
Jorge Appiah said Solar Taxi’s main focus is to create an affordable and environmentally friendly transportation system for Africa, such that “we will avoid the situation where we make a lot of money but can’t spend because we would have to be wearing nose masks and adopting practicing to prevent health risks due to environmental pollution.”
West African economies, he said, depend largely on transportation, such that the smallest increase in the cost of any transportation component like fuel, spare parts and others impact every sector of the economy – education, food, health and others.
So with the global drive towards stemming climate change, the dream was to find a sustainable and affordable means of transportation for the sub-region and beyond, and that was how Solar Taxi was birthed. He said it was based on the company’s commitment to green energy that, in 2018, MasterCard came on board as a partner and provided funding for them to go commercial.
In terms of the safety of electric vehicles, Jorge Appiah said they are way safer than petrol and diesel cars because the safety measures put in electric cars have been stepped up many notches higher compared to petrol and diesel cars.
“For one, petrol is flammable but electric vehicles can hardly catch fire due to the high safety standards – EVs are just like the mobile phone in your pocket – if you do not have concerns about your mobile handset easily posing a risk then you should not have concerns about electric vehicles,” he said.
Still on safety, The Solar Taxi boss said electric vehicles have been given thorough crash tests and they often pass as safer than petrol and diesel cars, adding that for EVs “safety is the definition” and when it comes to crash test results, EVs have some of the best in the world.
Jorge Appiah believes Africa is poised to develop fast, but if care is not taken, the continent will develop by polluting the climate like the west did. But with affordable electric vehicles Africa can leapfrog its challenges and develop in an environmentally friendly manner.
Solar Taxi employs about 42 Ghanaians, out of which 60 percent are technical staff and the rest are administrative and business staff, and they have already started receiving requests from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and other parts of the sub-region.