By Moses Akaigwe and Walter Ukaegbu, Abuja,
Nigeria’s first locally assembled electric car, Hyundai Kona, received deserved applause and endorsement recently in Abuja as Stallion Motors Limited unveiled it to key members of the Federal Government and auto industry stakeholders.
Hyundai Kona, a sub-compact SUV, can go up to a range of 482km with an acceleration of (0-100kms) in 9.7 seconds on a single battery cycle of a capacity of 64KWH. It is interesting to note that ease of charging is one of its strongest points, as it can be plugged in at home or at workplace for 9:35 hours (standard charger) for a full battery.
At the launch, which took place at the Sheraton Hotel, the guests, including ministers, as well as heads of government agencies and parastatals, took turns to commend Stallion Motors for pioneering the assembly of electric vehicles in Nigeria through one of its subsidiaries, Hyundai Motors Nigeria.
The ceremony, held in collaboration with the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), also provided an auspicious platform for the auto industry’s apex body’s director-general, Jelani Aliyu, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, and ministers in other relevant ministries to make encouraging remarks on the nascent electric vehicle project in the country.
Congratulating Stallion for the Hyundai Kona breakthrough, Aliyu described the development as a historic milestone in the NADDC’s efforts to develop the local auto industry, especially in the quest to be abreast of progress in the rest of the world in producing zero-emission vehicles (driven by electric motor as against those that run on fossil fuel engines).
The NADDC DG further remarked that the Kona success story was in tandem with the goals of the auto policy: “The Hyundai Kona Electric unveiled today is a strong testament to the achievements of the NAIDP (National Automotive Industry Development Plan), which is an unrelenting commitment and support for the local production of vehicles in Nigeria.”
Aliyu earned applause of his own when he announced plans by the Federal Government to begin an electric vehicle (EV) pilot programme in three universities, even as he urged Nigerians to embrace the new technology which, according to him, has empowered businesses and energized private sectors through industrialisation.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said: “This is the first electric car that we are seeing here. The Federal Government is willing to provide the enabling environment for this technology to thrive. On behalf of the Federal Government, I commend Hyundai for this initiative, as we continue to support this noble idea.”
Addressing the guests, the CEO of the Stallion Group, Anant Badjatya, noted that the Federal Government has always been forward-thinking for the greater good of Nigeria and sustainable means of operations, thereby making the nation future-ready.
“Being here today and advocating the first electric car locally assembled further adds to the vision for a greener eco-friendly Nigeria,” he said.
Badjatya explained that the most remarkable characteristic of the electric car was its zero-emission nature, stating that it could be charged at home and at the workplace. He stated that Stallion was working towards making the new product affordable for Nigerians.
“Right now, the most important thing is for us to understand that we need to embrace the future, because this is the future of automobile. We cannot wish it away, because the entire world is now embracing EVs as they want to get away from diesel and petrol engines. The good thing about Nigerians is that they are very innovative. They can embrace and enjoy this technology.”
Providing more insight on the new car, Hyundai Brand head, Gaurav Vashisht, described Kona as a stepping stone towards a greener Nigeria: “The question often asked is, ‘are we ready for the electric vehicle in Nigeria?’ And, I am asking, ‘Who says we are not ready?’ Making it affordable and accessible will see most Nigerians adopt in the new normal in today’s time. It will be great to simply charge my car at home like a mobile phone and drive around at no fuel cost.
“Kona offers just that ease to the consumers. The first electric SUV from Hyundai, the Kona can go up to a range of 482 km with an acceleration of (0-100kms) in 9.7 seconds on a single battery cycle of a capacity of 64 KWH. The ease of charging is unmatched and can be plugged in at home or work for 9:35 hours (standard charger) for a full battery; you can also charge Kona battery with ultra-fast charger in 3:30 hours. It’s 100 percent electric with zero carbon emission. Kona Electric is here to change the way people think about going electric.”
Vashisht drew guests’ attention to the fact that the interest in climate change and its effects on the environment and society more broadly, is currently at an all-time high. Specifically, with the unpredicted pandemic of COVID-19, more countries are increasingly acknowledging the shift that is needed from a fossil fuel-driven economy to one that is sustainable, green and attempts to mitigate climate change.
The Brand Head said that Hyundai Motors Nigeria recognised this paradigm shift in the transportation sector by bringing in electric mobility that is a step towards the same goal. He explained that for a developing country like Nigeria, not being discouraged by the infrastructural challenges, Stallion is launching the first ever Electric Vehicle (EV) in conjugation with Hyundai, in order to embark on the attitudinal change for a clean environment.
According to Vashisht, Kona electric has been extensively acknowledged for its class driving range, safety convenience features and fast-charging capability, adding that its success can be measured by the fact that in Apri, 2020, it was named the Best Small Family Car by the inaugural TopGear Electric Awards based on its 24-hour (1,600-km) performance.
The EV also played a role in the Kona nameplate winning Spanish newspaper, ABC’s Best Car of the Year award. It also won the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.