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Uncertainty over electric vehicles’ takeoff in Nigeria

Two years to the timeline set by the federal government to increase the percentage of electric vehicles in Nigeria to 7.50 per cent of the…

Two years to the timeline set by the federal government to increase the percentage of electric vehicles in Nigeria to 7.50 per cent of the vehicles plying roads in the country, there are doubts over the feasibility of the target, Daily Trust can report.

Two years after the first locally assembled electric vehicle was launched, only about 200 units have been sold.

The government had, in its 2050 Policy Agenda document launched by former President Muhammadu Buhari in May, said the proportion of electric vehicles in Nigeria was less than one per cent. The government had planned to increase the number to 7.50% in 2025, 14 % in 2030, 20.50% in 2035, 27% in 2040, 33.50% in 2045 and 40% in 2050.

The target was part of the proposed investment in climate-smart technologies to reduce carbon emissions in line with the global vehicle electrification programme aimed at reducing the internal combustion engine vehicles which run on fossil fuel and contributing to global carbon emissions.

In its report on Africa Electric Vehicle Market Size and Share Analysis (2023-2028 forecast), Mordor Intelligence estimated that Africa Electric Vehicle Market was valued at $11.94bn in 2021, adding that, “it is projected to reach $21.39bn by 2027.”

Many African countries like South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Zambia and others are investing in EVs. For instance, there are 6,367 electric vehicles in South Africa as of 2022, indicating that 0.2% of new cars sold there were fully electric.

The ride-hailing platform, Bolt, is also investing in EVs. It recently introduced electric vehicles to its fleet in Kenya, the first African country such would be introduced.

Globally, under a decarbonisation objective, the electric vehicle market is growing, exceeding 10 million sales in 2022, with 14% of all new cars sold being electric, according to the global EV Outlook 2023 with 26 million EVs on the roads.

China is leading the pack with 13.9m cars followed by Europe with 9.5m and the US 3m EVs. There are projections to achieve 14m sales by year-end as developed countries race to achieve 50% by 2040.


Nigeria lags behind

In 2021, Nigeria launched the first locally assembled electric vehicle, Hyundai Kona, from the stable of Stallion Motors.

This followed the unveiling of the pilot programme by the National Automotive Industry Design and Development Council (NADDC) with a partnership with the Stallion Group and other stakeholders to roll out 100 solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations across Nigeria.

The introduction of the Hyundai Kona opened a new vista of opportunities in the automotive industry as the world attempts to phase out the petrol-powered vehicles in response to global climate change and concerted action against emissions.

The Kona first debuted in June 2017; while the electric version called the Kona Electric was first launched in South Korea in the first half of 2018 before it was rolled out gradually worldwide.

The Kona can go up to a range of 482km with an acceleration of (0-100km) in 9.7 seconds on a single battery cycle of a capacity of 64 kilowatt hours.

The ease of charging has been described as unmatched as it can be plugged in at home or work for 9.35 hours for a full battery. It is 100 per cent electric with zero carbon emissions. The running cost is said to be minimal compared to the petrol-powered variant.

For electricity consumers resident in accommodations categorized under R1 where they are charged N45 per kilowatt, it is estimated that Hyundai Kona owners would incur only N3,300 for a full charge that will do a running of 482km, if the car is plugged into the public power supply.

Earlier in 2015, Kia Nigeria introduced the Kia Soul EV, the first electric vehicle in Nigeria.

Also, Jet Systems, an indigenous electric vehicle maker, is disrupting the passenger minibus market with the Jet Mover Electric Vehicle which it describes as a cheaper and cleaner alternative to ICE vehicles.

The Jet Mover EV is fitted with a Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Motor, which produces 100-horsepower/600 Nm and uses a 107.6 kWh lithium-ion battery-pack. When fully charged, the all-electric 14-seat bus goes 240km (150 miles) — though, it can cover up to 300km range without traffic.

Few EVs on Nigerian roads

Findings by our correspondent revealed that despite the publicity around the launch of the Kona and the promotion for other EV brands in Nigeria, there are few units of EVs on Nigerian roads. As of last year, only 200 units of Kona electric vehicles were said to have been sold.

Some transport companies subscribed to the Jet Mover buses, but only a few units are on Nigerian roads, according to players in the sector.

A senior official of an EV manufacturer in Nigeria said the penetration level for EVs was still very low.

“I can tell you Stallion has not sold up to 300 Kona units since it was introduced, likewise other brands are struggling with EVs.

“So, the figure of EV vehicles sold is not much. The electric vehicles market is at a very nascent stage and not commercially viable, still, we don’t get the necessary policy support and patronage from the government and its parastatals.”

The NADDC said it had developed a new plan to aggressively build on the successes achieved so far.

It said it would strategically provide outstandingly competitive fiscal and non-fiscal incentives needed by automotive industry manufacturers/researchers.

The Director-General of the NADDC, Jelani Aliyu, said the electric vehicles built in Nigeria meet the extreme climatic conditions of the country.

“Any vehicle that is built in Nigeria is configured to cope with these extreme environments – terrain, rough roads, extremely high temperatures, extreme dust and other tough climatic conditions.


Charging infrastructures not available

So far, the NADDC has developed 100% solar-powered EV charging stations at three universities in Nigeria including Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; University of Nigeria Nsukka and University of Lagos.

There is also charging station in Victoria Island, which Lagos launched in June by Qore Systems. Another was recently launched in Abuja by another private company.


Battery production

Battery is a core component of an electric vehicle. The batteries used for electric cars are high-capacity lithium-ion batteries with minimum energy loss.

They are made using carbon or graphite, a metal oxide, and lithium salt.

Observers say Nigeria can be positioned to contribute to the global electric vehicle development with the abundance of lithium mined in several states in the country. Lithium is currently mined in Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti and Cross River states.


Stakeholders highlight challenges to EV penetration

The General Manager, Stallion NMN, Amit Sharma, said insecurity and lack of policy by the government are major bottlenecks to vehicle electrification in Nigeria.

He said for vehicle electrification to fully take effect on the continent, there must be political will by governments through good legislative environment that would incentivise the move to new technologies.

A road safety expert, Patrick Adenusi, said getting charging stations and technicians that would fix electric vehicles might be a problem.

“Those are the basic challenges that anyone who buys an EV will encounter; how will they maintain them? And if they’re able to maintain them, how cheap will they be? If you have an EV and you live in Lagos, I think I saw two charging points in Adeola Odeku and a few days ago, I saw two charging points in one particular location, but they have two charging points where one can actually charge their EVs. But if you drive from Lagos and you want to go for a meeting in Ibadan, how do you replace your energy?” he stated.

An auto dealer, Femi Olawale, said as much as electric vehicles are a cleaner alternative, electricity supply is a major issue in Nigeria.

“At the same time, the government needs to build enough charging stations,” he added.

A former Acting DG of NADDC, Mr Luqman Mamudu, in a chat with Daily Trust, said the EV policy must incorporate “programmes to attract local and foreign investors.”

He said, “It’s certainly true that consumer adoption of EVs is slowed by concerns with battery strength and lifespan compared with gasoline engines. Ongoing research to address these concerns is intense and appears to be yielding positive results.

“Currently, warranties for EVs are about 130,000km and eight years, but power packs that can last over 1 million km and for 16 years have been recently developed. This means that global adoption will increase within the next 10 years.

“Nigeria can start by encouraging the development of infrastructure. Charging infrastructure is practically nonexistent in Nigeria, but there are advances in the development of smart chargers. This may suffice for a while for limited EV owners,” he added.

He described enabling policy environment for sustainable investment as a critical component at the starting block.

He said implementation of the Nigeria National Action Plan for the development of EVs should be hastened after wide consultation and should include strategies for sustainable investments by all stakeholders.

“Nigeria and indeed Africa should be positioned properly for abundant resources available waiting to be tapped.”

He said the target might be achieved if the national planning agenda “will achieve quick industry access to sustainable investment funds, PPP projects like charging infrastructure and aggressive government incentives as tax rebates for manufacturers/end-users, subsidies, etc.”

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