As electric vehicles (EVs) become more and more popular around the world and an increasing number of these futuristic modes of transport have been seen on Namibian roads, their emission saving technology will only be as good as the charging infrastructure that accompanies it. A local entrepreneur who coverts fuel guzzling cars into EVs agrees, saying a national charging network will support more acceptance of locally registered EVs. An EV charging station is infrastructure used for recharging the batteries of EVs.
Axel Conrad is a partner in a local company called e-car Namibia that has been operating since the beginning of 2019. Conrad and partner Madryn Cosburn, aim to develop the ultimate “bush car” and to promote EVs in Namibia and the southern African region. While admitting that the cost of converting an Internal Combustion Engine to electric propulsion is still quite high, Conrad is confident that for a “commercial” operation converting to EV will be a huge safer as the EVs use no fuel, require far less service and require less downtime. A similar EV conversion operation in Australia targeting major resources companies looking to cut emissions in its mining activities has been quite successful in providing conversion kits for a range of four-wheel vehicles including mine site vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers and the Toyota HiLux.
In fact, e-car Namibia’s first demo vehicle is their “e-cruiser”, which is a converted 79 series Land Cruiser Pickup. The e-cruiser has already clocked over 15 000 km and is being used as a demonstration vehicle to allow decision makers and potential users to experience driving an off-road EV. With a current range of between 80 and 100 km and up to 150 km depending on batteries, Conrad said with funding this range could be further developed.
“A charging station network will definitely support EV’s in general. Our retrofit can be charged with a normal single phase house plug. Average charging now takes up to 8 hours (overnight) and this can be reduced to 4 hours full charge. Please keep in mind, the Land Cruisers is ideal for tourism, mining and large scale farming and this is only one of many possible conversion options. We can also convert vans, buses, and a lot more,” said Conrad. He added: “We are also in talks with Bosch SA as a preferred retrofit company in southern Africa. We also have our own software for data collection which is top of the range within the history of the industry and it is totally made in Namibia. The main problem is funding, and financing as currently there is not suitable support to scale up and be of huge benefit”.
Conrad explained that e-car intends to provide retrofitting services, complete vehicles, battery solutions as well as infrastructure to support the wide adoption of electric vehicles in the business, government, humanitarian, commercial and industrial spaces. The company also plans to provide fleet leasing for commercial companies as existing fleets are migrated to EV.
A recent research report by Canadian-based Precedence Research noted that with the bolstering sales of electric vehicles worldwide EV manufacturers are increasingly focused towards the development of the charging infrastructure to fulfill the operational requirements of the electric vehicles. Moreover, with rising consumer demand market players are significantly transforming and developing new technologies in both public and private charging stations. Consumers have more emphasis on fast-charging stations that will save their time and also boost the performance of the battery.
“Commercial success for electric vehicles needs installation of charging infrastructure which is reachable, accessible, and comparatively reasonable irrespective of their location. Strategic initiatives taken by some of the major players to provide free charging facility to the electric vehicle owners will provide traction to the market growth. In addition, rising trend of home & workplace charging stations or private charging stations in North American and European countries attributed to boost the AC charging station market size. Private charging provides fast and reliable charging with no time constraint, which may provide ease of EV charging to the vehicle owners. However, lack of standardisation coupled with various costs associated with charging station such as operational, maintenance, and installation costs may hinder the market growth. In addition, the looming under investment for the EV charging station development projects projected to hamper the growth of the market,” reads the research.