We try to cover what is happening in all the key EV markets of the world, and we increasingly cover quite a lot of content focusing on the development of the African EV market. We are always on the lookout for any interesting developments. There is a lot of exciting stuff happening all over the continent, and it gives me so much joy whenever I come across some new developments. The transition to electric mobility is well underway. In fact, it’s happening a whole lot faster than previously thought. Just take a look at all the awesome stuff happening in Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, to name a few places. One of the most popular contributions from our readers is that African countries should not just import finished products when it comes to EVs, but they should also focus on manufacturing EVs locally, ensuring that the EVs are best suited for local conditions.
South Africa has traditionally had the largest auto manufacturing/assembly industry on the continent, manufacturing about 600,000 (fossil-powered) units annually (before Covid). The vehicle manufacturing industry in South Africa contributes about 7% to GDP and employs over 112,000 people. Morocco has had a goal of taking the number spot from South Africa for a while and will increase its production capacity to 700,000 vehicles per year in 2023. A strong local industry for automotive component manufacturing will be critical to the growth of the sector. The Moroccan automotive industry represented 27.6% of the kingdom’s exports in 2019. Keeping up with key trends in the global automotive industry will ensure that such a key pillar of Morocco’s economy will continue to grow and also safeguard it from obsolescence. European markets, which are a key target for exports, have set deadlines for the phaseout of ICE (internal combustion engine) cars. Therefore, having a strong EV manufacturing roadmap has now become even more critical. We’ve previously looked at how South Africa’s manufacturing sector could miss out on the transition to electric vehicles by continuing to produce only ICE vehicles. Morocco, however, is pushing hard to quickly get in on the action in the EV and EV component manufacturing sectors. A few of the recent developments are listed below:
1. STMicroelectronics Chip Production Facility in Bouskoura
STMicroelectronics recently opened a Research & Development and manufacturing facility in the city of Bouskoura. Bouskoura is an industrial town on the outskirts of Casablanca. The facility has a dedicated production line for electronic chips for Tesla. This auto chip production line dedicated to electric vehicles will help position Morocco as a hub for EV production as well as a strategic player in the semiconductor supply chain. There will no doubt be extensive skills transfer and knowledge upgrade programs associated with such investments, making sure that the human resources in this sector stay up to date. This will also help the nation attract more investment in this field.
2. Stellantis Production Plant in Kenitra
Stellantis’ Kenitra plant has a production capacity of 200,000 vehicles per year. More importantly, that plant has a production capacity of over 20,000 units per year for the Citroen Ami! The adorable Citroen Ami has a 5.5 kWh battery, a 6 kW motor, and a top speed of 45 km/h. The cargo version of the Ami can carry goods of about 140 kilograms. The best thing about this little EV is that you can get “un Ami pour seulement” (for only) €6,000. It’s really good to see that the Ami is produced here in Africa, helping create employment on the continent. The Ami has been well received in France and Spain where it is already on sale. The Ami is also coming to the United Kingdom in early 2022, where it has received 12,000 expressions of interests and over 1,000 confirmed orders. It will remain a left-hand-drive design, but that probably won’t matter much since it is such a tiny car. They say it may perhaps make it more user friendly for drivers alighting on the left directly onto the pavement.
In Morocco itself, Morocco Post will use the Citroën AMI. The Ami will be used to deliver mail and parcels across the country. 225 electric Amis will be part of the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint. A “friend” of the Ami, the Opel Rocks-E, will also be made in Morocco. Production of affordable electric vehicles in Morocco such as the Citroen Ami is a good start. It will provide a cost-effective route to get these affordable electric vehicles to other North, West, and Central African countries, and hopefully to the rest of the Continent as well. These small affordable EVs could disrupt the mobility industry in Africa. Given a choice between a $4000 Tuk Tuk and a $6500 Ami or a Wuling HongGuang Mini EV, a fleet operator may have an easy decision in front of itself. The small EVs with their lower running costs offer a more compelling value proposition. The small EVs could also help catalyse the growth of rideshare programs. A lot of Uber drivers in some markets opt to use small ICE vehicles such as the Suzuki Alto — these could also be a target market for such drivers.
In another important development, Morocco has become the first market in Africa to get Tesla Superchargers. Tesla has launched with 4 stalls in Tangier and another 4 stalls in Casablanca. I hope this is a sign that Tesla will start selling its vehicles in Morocco soon. There is already a strong Tesla community in Morocco from fans importing their own vehicles directly from Europe and the USA. Tesla recently announced that it will open up its Superchargers to other vehicles. Non-Tesla owners in Morocco would also start to enjoy the convenience of Superchargers as the Supercharging network grows.
Africa’s low motorization levels presents an exciting opportunity to jump straight into the age of electric mobility for the majority of citizens. Only a handful of countries have motorization rates above 100 vehicles per 1000 people. The majority of countries have rates below 50 passenger vehicles per 1000 people. Even though the majority of countries are starting from a very low base, sales of vehicles (new and used imports combined) are growing at rates of around 10% per year in a lot of these countries. Making small affordable EVs available on the continent as well as manufacturing them locally will help us get there.
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