‘Electric buses coming soon’

Livingstone Marufu
Major Chinese electric bus manufacturers are angling to invest in the multi-million dollar electric buses sector in Zimbabwe in an attempt to develop the country’s mass public transport sector in line with the world’s latest trends, a senior Government official has revealed.

This comes after Special Advisor to the President, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, met several specialists in electric buses manufacturing that showed interest in investing in the country’s mass transport sector. He said a number of companies have promised to invest not less than $500 million each in the emerging sector and what is left is for Government to choose the best investor with the best terms for the country.

Ambassador Mutsvangwa said: “Six companies which include Yutong, NIO and BYD, among other companies, have shown keen interest of investing in the country’s new electric bus industry, which is expected to address transport problems while using a clean source of fuel that is environment friendly.

“Under President Mnangagwa’s administration, we have relaxed ease of doing business laws, hence investors are flocking to play a part in our economy. In a month’s time or two, we expect a delegation from China to come in to carry out a feasibility study and see the best areas that they can start with. Electric buses offer smoother, quieter, cleaner transport that leaves passengers and drivers in comfort while saving millions of dollars used by fuel powered buses. We will be able to charge once to move over 400 km without using any fuel. The bus’ electric system will then recharge itself.

“We are not talking about the spaghetti roads or bullet trains, but electric buses which Yutong can provide here in the country, electric buses are real and they are coming soon,” said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.

He said Chinese investors will also help to mine multi-billion dollar lithium, which will provide batteries for the electric buses.

According to an Indian Institute of Science (IISc) study evaluating electric vehicles for urban transport, electric buses generate 27 percent more revenue and 82 percent more profits than diesel buses per day, which will be a game changer to the Zimbabwean transport system.

From the findings of the study, 150 000 diesel buses in India produce as much as 25 tonnes of carbon monoxide emission, which is responsible for contributing to urban smog and carbon emissions that are warming the planet.

He said with the new transport system, more energy can be saved while protecting the environment from global warming.

The investment into electric buses had to be paired with adequate infrastructure.

China’s Shenzhen has 510 bus charging stations that have a combined 8 000 charging points, so it can charge just under half the fleet at once.

At the Qinghu Bus Terminal, with more than 30 charging poles, the assistant manager gave an insight into its capacity.

Experts suggest that a bus can be fully charged within two hours and the charging poles can serve 300 buses a day.

A local energy think tank, Zimbabwe Energy Council (ZEC) director Mr Panganayi Sithole said electric buses will be a game-changer to Zimbabwe’s transport system.

“This can help improve the country’s transport system.

“If they are using solar as it is said then it’s a huge advantage as it will be saving electricity, fuel, foreign currency and the environment at the same time,” said Mr Sithole.

Huge sheets of solar panels can be mounted on the bus roof to supplement the batteries.

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