Makerere University students Jonathan Kasumba and his team of 21 members are in the progress of building a 37 seater solar bus to follow their earlier innovation of the first electric car manufactured in East, Southern and Northern Africa – Kiira EV.
These students are building the Kiira EV SMACK a hybrid electric vehicle and it big brother the 37 seater called Kayoola EV. According to the Observer, the Kiira EV SMACK is an improved version of the Kiira EV (officially known as the Kiira EV Proof of Concept -PoC). The Kiira EV SMACK addresses limitations identified in the Kiira EV PoC such as duty cycle, and seating capacity. Unlike the PoC, which only relied on its batteries, the Kiira EV SMACK is powered by a rechargeable battery bank and a generator set for propulsion and battery charging, making it a self-sustaining system.
The Kayoola solar electric bus is powered by 240 Lithium Ion cells packaged as two battery banks, one running the motor at a time. It can cover 80km before the next charge. The bus will also have a rack of solar panels on its roof, to harvest solar energy to charge the batteries.
“My job is to come up with the artistic designs and present them to the whole team, before we can start the hard technical work,” the soft-spoken Kasumba says as reported by Observer regarding the image of the bus. The bus has gone through redesigns inspired by many different technology ideas like one which was inspired after a presentation by students from St Mary’s College Kisubi, who presented a robot model of a Smart Hybrid Car at the 2012 Science and Technology Innovations Challenge at Makerere University.
This new development of the vehicles comes after concerns were raised about Kiira EV PoC it becoming a challenging concept to adopt given its range limitations. Kiira EV PoC which takes about four hours to charge fully when one needs to hit the road for 80km was big challenge for mode.
Many students who have different ideas about this project were invited to participate in the development of the Kiira EV hybrid thus helping in giving a hand on internship to those who qualified to the work with the team to build the next generation of budding science and technology innovators.