This eMobility programme offers up to R1 million in funding for electric vehicle projects in SA

Business Insider SA
Electric vehicles in South Africa
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  • Although electric mobility in South Africa is still in its infancy, there's at least one programme rewarding innovation in the electric vehicle sector.
  • The uYilo Kick Start fund offers up to R1 million in funding for collaborative projects with, at the very least, critical function or proof of concept established.
  • Projects on battery systems, charging solutions, motors, inverters, and remote monitoring systems have previously been awarded funding.
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A fund to support electric mobility, products, and services in South Africa is accepting applications for its 2022 intake, with up to R1 million available for collaborative projects.

The world is slowly moving away from the internal combustion engine in a drive towards clean and sustainable energy. The United Kingdom will start phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030. The United States wants half of all vehicles sold in the country to be electric by the same time.

More than 20 countries recently signed a climate change declaration committing to working towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emissions globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets.

South Africa is not a signatory of the COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emission cars and electric mobility has yet to make any significant inroads. Less than 100 electric vehicles – or 0.02% of all domestic automotive sales – were sold in South Africa in 2020.

And while uptake has been slow, South Africa's government, through vital private partnerships, is looking to advance electric mobility – or eMobility – in the country.  

The New Energy Vehicle paper published in May 2021 serves as a roadmap to South Africa becoming a major player in the world of car and component manufacturing. President Cyril Ramaphosa reaffirmed this commitment to electric vehicle production in October, citing the commercial production of a hybrid vehicle at Toyota's KwaZulu-Natal factory.

The uYilo eMobility Programme, established in 2013 as part of the Technology Innovation Agency, looks to enable, facilitate, and mobilise electric vehicle mobility in South Africa. Hosted by the Nelson Mandela University, with support from government agencies, private firms, and international climate-change initiatives, the programme focuses on developing the eMobility ecosystem.

From renewable energy generation to charging infrastructure, battery technology to manufacturing electric vehicles and components, the uYilo eMobility Programme is currently operating numerous pilot projects and testing facilities.

The uYilo Kick Start fund is one of the ways in which the programme looks to support innovation, research, and development in the eMobility sector. Applications for the fund opened on Monday and submissions need to be made before midday 31 January.

"The development of a local e-Mobility value-chain is the key outcome of the uYilo kick start funding initiative," said uYilo Director, Hiten Parmar.

"The kick start fund focuses on accelerating existing research and development to the level where they can be commercialised into the market. It provides the support for local products and services, along with developing skillsets so South Africa can use its own resources to build an electric vehicle industry, with expanding opportunities for export while creating local employment."

The fund offers R500,000 for individual projects led by a single participant and up to R1 million for a collaborative project.

Projects which have previously been awarded funding include those working on battery systems, charging solutions, motors, inverters, and remote monitoring systems.

Eligible projects must be focused on energy storage technologies, electric vehicle systems, charging infrastructure within smart grids, or the connected car. Priority will also be given to projects that will lead to local manufacturing of a product or, delivery of a service or, support public transportation.

Fundamental or basic research will not be funded. Projects must at least be at Technology Readiness Level 3 (TLR3), with critical function or proof of concept established. This is when applied research of a project can advance and early-stage development can begin. At TRL3, experimental work is intended to verify that the concept works as expected.

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