Rwanda has partnered with German carmaker Volkswagen to test the reliability of the electric Golf cars in Africa, in its push to become the region’s industrial hub.
The e-Golfs were unveiled last week at the Kigali Convention Centre and are part of a campaign to cut vehicle emissions—which falls into Volkswagen’s plans to go fully electric by 2030 and Rwanda’s targets for net-zero emissions by 2050.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.
The e-Golf comes with a battery guarantee of eight years, and it takes an hour to fully charge the vehicle on 40kw per hour, which lasts a distance of 230km.
Currently, charging can only be done at a station at the Kigali Special Economic Zone, using technology developed by German manufacturer Siemens.
About 15 more charging points are expected to be rolled out in Kigali depending on the vehicle’s performance and demand.
Starting with only four electric vehicles, the test phase will see Volkswagen gradually increase the fleet to 50.
The cars are not primarily for sale but will be used in Volkswagen’s car-hailing and sharing services popularly used in Rwanda through their Move App.
The app has about 27,000 registered users and 60,000 rides from the beginning of this year.
“We started working with Rwanda about two years ago and we can reach out to the continent through our work here,” said Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa.
The electric cars are imported to Rwanda duty free—a government incentive to large investors seeking to set up assembly and production lines in the country.
The e-Golf has been in European markets since 2014 and costs about $35,900. VW also runs a car assembly in Kenya, which resumed in 2016 after a 40-year hiatus.