Second-hand cars in Kenya are more expense than you would think, with prices driven up by a combination of customs, excise and VAT. This situation, coupled with the poor conditions of Kenya’s highway infrastructure, led one young computer engineer to set about solving the problem – creating a brand new car which costs just $6,000.
Joel Jackson first arrived in Kenya back in 2009, initially with a charity to provide assistance to small-scale farmers to increase their yields, but his attentions soon became fixated on a bigger problem.
“It became clear that the lack of appropriate transport affected many parts of rural Africa”, Jackson commented.
This realisation led him to design the Mobius One, a car which went on to be constructed by local welders and mechanics.
“It had a tubular steel frame and off-the-shelf parts. It looked like a dune buggy, took 10 months to build and cost $14,000 (£9,000),” reflected Jackson.
These problems aside, the vehicle was enough to convince Jackson to leave his day job and set up his own company, Mobius Motors. Through the company, he was able to raise £250,000 in venture-capital funding and put together a team of specialists to help build the second incarnation, the Mobius Two. The car had all non-essential features removed to focus on the most important aspect, making sure the vehicle was rugged and durable enough to withstand Africa’s degraded roads.
The Mobius Two was finished September 2011 at a cost of $15,000, but was far superior in terms of engineering and design, and only took three months to construct. Ultimately, Jackson aims to sell the car to Africa’s growing middle-classes at a cost far lower than that of a comparable new off-road vehicle, which can typically cost $60,000, or even a second-hand alternative.
“Mobius has the chance to change the transport network in Africa. Access to transportation means access to education and health services and that is the social impact of the project, “Jackson concluded. “My ambition is for this to be the car for Africa and I’d like to hundreds of thousands of them produced each year.”
Though the creator’s ambitions are high, Mobius already has 15 pre-orders with a further 100 scheduled to follow shortly, a number that is sure to keep growing so long as Africa’s economy continues to expand.
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