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This young Joburg entrepreneur hopes to build SA's first electric bakkie

Business Insider SA
Mazibuko Motor Company
The M1B bakkie (Image: Mazibuko Motor Company)
  • Nhlanhla Mazibuko, who founded Mazibuko Motor Company, is developing South Africa’s first electric bakkie, M1B.
  • The bakkie would have a range of 400km and have a power capacity of 500kW.
  • The company plans to start working on its prototype for its bakkie in June.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


Nhlanhla Mazibuko, a young entrepreneur from Johannesburg, is in the process of building what is set to be South Africa’s first electric bakkie.

Frustrated by South Africa’s slow adoption of electric vehicles, Mazibuko decided he’d be one of the industry’s pioneers and build his own. He founded Mazibuko Motor Company, a battery electric and technology company based in the Vaal, which opened its doors in June last year.

Nhlanhla Mazibuko
CEO and founder of Mazibuko Motor Company (Image: Nhlanhla Mazibuko)

Nine months later, the company has come up with the prototype of its first vehicle, a pick-up it has named the M1B.

At launch, the M1B bakkie promises to have a power capacity of 500kW, split in two 250kW motors - one located at the back of the car, the other in front.

Its battery power will be 120kw/h, allowing it to drive a cumulative distance of 400km when fully charged. The company also claims the bakkie will be able to reach 0 to100 km in under five seconds.

Mazibuko Motor Company has just concluded its concept phase and plans to initiate the prototype’s building phase in June this year.

           
Mazibuko Motor Company
The M1B bakkie (Image: Mazibuko Motor Company)
Mazibuko Motor Company
The M1B bakkie (Image: Mazibuko Motor Company)
Mazibuko Motor Company
The M1B bakkie (Image: Mazibuko Motor Company)

Mazibuko said instead of going the traditional route most electric vehicle manufacturers take - building supercars as their first car - bringing a bakkie to the market made more sense, given it’s one of South Africa’s best-sold cars.

"Initially, we thought about going the traditional route where most companies would start off with a super car, which is very expensive. But you’ll you have better margins, then you’ll go low and you can then build affordable cars," Mazibuko told Business Insider.

"But for us, we just thought, let’s just go for something that is South African, something that people can relate to and that we know can work which was a bakkie. Bakkies is one of the high-selling segments in South Africa and it can enter at a price point where we can make money and go forward and develop other vehicles."

How much the bakkie will cost once completed will depend on a combination of factors, including battery prices and where the vehicle will be manufactured. However, the company plans to bring an affordable car to the market.

Mazibuko Motors has also created its own MMC EV platform. The platform combines E-Axle(electric motor, power electronics, and transmission), electrical and electronic architecture, thermal management solutions, scalable battery pack, and a Flexi frame.

"Our initial goal was to use the platform of an existing supplier/OEM, but due to slow turnout times and not being able to have full control on the design, engineering, and quick changes and improves, we decided to develop our own skateboard platform. 

"Having a modular and scalable battery-electric platform allows us the ability and freedom to develop and bring more models to market quickly and at a fraction of the cost. We see this platform as a gateway to bringing models to market whether it’s Sport Utility Vehicles, Minibus taxi, or a hot hatch," the company says on its website.

The current thermal management systems are designed and optimised for the South African climate.

Mazibuko Motor Company
MMC EV platform (Image: Mazibuko Motor Company)
Mazibuko Motor Company
MMC EV platform (Image: Mazibuko Motor Company)

In the meantime, the company has teamed up with the MIH Alliance, the open source platform established by Foxconn (the company that manufactures Apple iPhones). The company is hoping its MiH EV platform, which other electric car makers can use to develop their own vehicles, will help invigorate the EV market.  

The alliance has other high-profile members such as Amazon and Microsoft.

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