SA e-car manufacturer heads for Zim

PRETORIA – SOUTH AFRICAN electric vehicle (EV) producer, Agilitee, says it is set to set up a plant in Zimbabwe following a surge in demand after its demonstration unit was unveiled in Harare late last year.

Speaking to NewsDay Business yesterday, Agilitee chief executive officer, Mandla Lamba said Zimbabwe became an attractive destination because it has huge lithium deposits which have attracted several miners, with US$300 million earmarked for extraction of the mineral resource for export.

The process towards setting up a plant will kick off this July, Lamba told NewsDay Business, noting that Zimbabwe will see Agilitee unveil a series of new products in South Africa this Friday.

“Zimbabwe has more markets than South Africa in terms of pushing the whole agenda because we had a good reception from the government than we have in South Africa,” Lamba said.

“So we will be opening in Zimbabwe on July 1, but we will start a process of building the assembly plant. We will be bringing EV components into Zimbabwe to assemble them. That helps also in terms of job creation and boosting the economy. Remember we do have investors from Australia who are mining lithium in Zimbabwe and Chinese companies doing the same. So that is how we see potential in Zimbabwe going forward,” Lamba told NewsDay Business. Lithium is used in manufacturing batteries for EVs.

He said Agilitee had received healthy orders from Zimbabwean EV dealer, Zimtorque.

“We received an order through Zimtorque, who were trying to get some cars for government. That shows that the Zimbabwe government is already advancing,” Lamba said.

Zimbabwe is set to become one of the world’s biggest lithium producers once several green-field projects at various stages of development come on stream, with projected output from the southern African country making up 20% of the global market.

Agilitee’s decision came a few months after Energy and Power Development minister Zhemu Soda launched a demonstration of EVs demonstrating government’s ambition to bring the technology to the country.

Zimtorque e-mobility boss, Tanaka Kutama yesterday said: “We have sold 15 EVs since august 2020. We have partnered with a bank to offer availability of electric vehicles because they are a bit expensive. We are trying to come up with a plan to make them affordable in Zimbabwe.”

“We are of course trying to get popular EV makers like Tesla and Nissan to come into Zimbabwe and assemble cars for export. We also want to have Japanese and American manufacturers coming into the country. We need to diversify our market,” he said.

Tesla is the giant American EV and clean energy company, which is majority controlled by the world’s second richest man, Elon Musk.

Industry data indicates that in 2020, Tesla had the highest sales of plug-in and battery electric passenger cars, capturing over 16% of the global market in each segment.

Through its subsidiary Tesla Energy, the company develops and is a major installer of solar photovoltaic energy generation systems in the United States.

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