With the United States, Europe, and China racing towards an all-electric future when it comes to personal transportation, Africa has been left out of the loop and is lagging in terms of EV adoption.
The main cause for this is attributed to the high cost of buying a new electric vehicle, which pushed many people on the continent to buy old petrol-burning second-hand cars from all over the world, which are cheaper but pollute the environment.
However, one company – Atlas E-Mobility Group – plans on changing all of this by unveiling the first-ever African-designed and engineered battery-electric vehicle (BEV) as early as 2026.
Based in London, UK, the self-proclaimed global technology company says it’s planning state-of-the-art production and development facilities in Morocco, where – granted – a couple of global automotive players have been making ICE cars for a while, including the Renault Group, which manufactures Dacia and Renault models at its Tangiers plant, and Stellantis, which makes the Peugeot 208 in Kenitra.
However, except for a handful of African startups that specialise in assembling or retrofitting electric buses and motorbikes, there has never been a mass-produced passenger EV developed on the continent.
Atlas was founded in 2021 by Mohammed Yehya El Bakkali, the company’s CEO, and Mohammed Hicham Senhaji Hannoun, the company’s Executive Chairman and CTO, with “substantial private funding,” according to the official press release.
The pair wants to bring to market a zero-emissions car that’s affordable, practical, and pragmatic, inspired by Moroccan design and identity. The vehicle, which currently doesn’t have a name or an assigned manufacturing facility, will be developed with emerging markets in mind, where little to no EV infrastructure exists, such as in some parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Furthermore, the UK-based group says it will also focus its efforts on providing “advanced range-enhancing technology, battery and charging networks,” but the details are yet to be announced.
As per the press release, the car will make use of a “proven OEM EV architecture,” which presumably means it will be based on an existing platform made by another car brand.
“We feel strongly that Africa is being ignored by companies in the EV transition,” said Mohammed Yehya El Bakkali, co-founder and CEO of Atlas E-Mobility Group. “However, no one should underestimate the continent’s determination to advance nor doubt its ability to produce world-leading zero-carbon-free technological solutions. In the field of transportation, these will prove pivotal to helping limit the rise in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius.”
It’s certainly an interesting approach and we’re glad that this very young company is trying to design and build an affordable electric passenger car in Africa. At the same time, though, we’re sceptical of the outcome, as making a reliable, cost-effective, and desirable mass-produced vehicle of any kind is an extremely hard endeavour, especially for someone who is having a first try at it.