The future of cars is electric


The days of powerful internal combustion engines are numbered as carmakers embrace an electric future.

Ian Middleton, the DT Dobie managing director, said Kenyans will begin to see more hybrid and all-electric vehicles on the roads over the next decade as Europe adopts this technology.

‘‘By 2040, it will be difficult to find a new vehicle with an internal combustion engine,’’ he said.

Hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) have been on the roads for years now and as the cost of production reduces more countries may follow France’s footsteps to rid cities of diesel-powered vehicles.

The first electric car was on the road 120 years ago, but sadly it was too expensive to make and the internal engine was mainstreamed.


Today, the Hybrid Toyota Prius and the all-electric Nissan Leaf are common on Kenyan roads.

Stanley Makombe of World Navi, a car importer, says nowadays most buyers prefer efficient vehicles. Toyota Prius, for instance, has proved its value and Kenyans are now choosing it over other Toyota models with internal combustion engines.
The main concern for most buyers, however, is the battery pack.

When purchasing a pre-owned Toyota Prius or Honda Hybrid, you need to know that the battery may need replacement after 10 years.

But these cars are still the best alternatives from fuel consumption to wear-and-tear which is at least 50 per cent lower than conventional vehicles if you service it as advised.

In the luxury electric car market, the future even looks brighter.

Mercedes-Benz EQ

The EQ (Electric intelligence) will be the most practical Mercedes vehicle for Kenya when electric vehicles finally are mainstreamed. The SUV will allow its owners to traverse the country without the need to refuel.

The EQ offers more than just an electric vehicle. It extends to wallboxes and charging services to home energy storage units.

This vehicle will require public charging despite the promised range of about 500kms. It will come with two electric motors driving all four wheels and powered by a scalable battery layout. Expect it before 2020. Mercedes promises it will be exceptional and drive with high everyday practicality and maximum safety.

Tesla Model S

Tesla produces four passenger vehicles, the Model S, Model X, Model 3 and the Roadster. Performance and safety are a key attribute in all models. Right hand drive production starts in 2019 so you can only expect a unit here in late 2020.

Model S is the flagship and was designed from the ground up to be the safest, most exhilarating sedan on the road and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 2.5 seconds.

Tesla Model S. PHOTO | TESLA.COM

Tesla Model S. PHOTO | TESLA.COM

It also comes with Autopilot capabilities designed to make your highway driving not only safer, but stress free. Expect range of between 420 and 542 kilometres on a single charge. It can seat five adults and two children face the rear window.

Most ideal for this market would be the Model X. They claim it is the safest, quickest, and most capable sport utility vehicle in history. It comes with all-wheel drive, ample seating for up to seven adults and can be configured to seat 5 or 6. It should manage 477 kilometres on a single charge.

It is quick too managing 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in under three seconds. For an SUV, that is indeed super impressive. It also comes with full self-driving hardware.

BMW i Vision Dynamics concept

The BMW i Vision Dynamics Concept is the answer to the electric intelligence question. It was introduced in September at the Frankfurt autoshow. It will have a range of 600 kilometres on a single charge.

It combines everything great about the i3 and i8 into a good looking four-door package. With a top speed to 120mph this Grand Coupe will reach 0-62 seconds in only four seconds.

BMW have no intention of being left out of the party and will extend their range of electric and battery powered vehicles. It currently sells the full electric i3 and i8 plug-in hybrid. An i5 and a flagship i9 are on the cards.

BMW i Vision Dynamics concept. PHOTO | COURTESY

BMW i Vision Dynamics concept. PHOTO | COURTESY

The future will see the range extend to include a smaller i1 as well as a larger iX8 and iX9 SUV.

The next EV from the Bavarian will most likely be the fully electric iX3 by 2020. EO Harald Krueger intimated that they shall introduce 25 new electrified models by 2025 and 12 will be fully electric.

Harald Krueger, the BMW chief executive, says the strategy is to have a third of its models as Xs. 2018 shall be the year of the X.

The line-up shall include the X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6 and new X7 with three rows, followed by the X8 and X9. Locally Simba Corp that handle the brand plan to introduce the intelligent 5 and 7 Series in Q1 of 2018.