01:26 – How uYilo and Jendamark started working together?
- The relationship started when Hiten was encouraging Jendamark to get into the alternative energy space and the e-mobility space.
- Since then, Hiten and uYilo have been a great source of information to help with Jendamark’s electric vehicle strategy.
- Through his guidance, Jendamark has two key R&D projects on the way and is developing an electric charger and a small vehicle to help with transport between our two factories.
02:52 – We believe that there is no great technology without greater people behind the tech and, as a way of introduction, who is Hiten Parmar?
- Hiten Parmar said he dedicated his entire career to the automotive industry, starting out with internal combustion engines and shifting his focus to the technology side.
- In the early stages, he focused on automation lines, building cars and then later moved to research and design of the technology of the internal combustion engine/engine control/vehicle control.
04:40 – How has uYilo overcome the huge skills gap in South Africa?
- When technology matures, there is always innovation that comes into play, but behind the technology are the people, and there will always be a need for skills development.
- There is a big skills gap globally, and it is even worse in South Africa.
- We are aware that, with the technology maturing at this rate, the skills gap is increasing too.
- uYilo understands that it’s not just about the vehicle itself but about the ecosystem around electric mobility.
- In every new market that is developed there is a need for skills because without the skills, the success rate will be low.
- Over the past eight years, we’ve grown our skills internally and have contributed to skills development externally to fully acknowledge the gap.
07:02 – What are the projects that uYilo is working on within the mobility space?
- Our facilities extend from the battery side, where we focus on testing the batteries and the accreditation of all the testing that happens.
- Then we have the vehicle system, which includes the smart grid ecosystem, or how the vehicles interact with the grid and the whole energy system.
- Over the years we have worked on ecotourism projects where we focused on utility vehicles in the tourism environment.
- There is growth within ecotourism projects in Africa. That is unique to us and not as competitive as the commercial vehicle and passenger car markets.
- We have completed e-bike projects, utility vehicle applications and worked closely with OEMs to utilise second-life EV batteries, looking at vehicle-to-grid, and inclusion of solar and energy management.
09:05 – What is ecotourism?
- Tourism and agriculture are moving to the green environment and that is creating an industry shift and a huge opportunity, especially for Africa.
- There are several markets that are looking at bringing the green agenda into tourism.
- When you look at game viewing for example, guests often smell the diesel fumes and also hear the noise created by the trucks, and it isn’t a good experience for the environment, especially the animals.
- The question becomes: What is the opportunity for bringing e-mobility into tourism?
- We have seen in Botswana they have started integrating electric safari boats and electric game-viewing vehicles.
12:03 – What are the opportunities within the ecosystem?
- The opportunities lie in looking at the complete value chain and the whole supply chain of e-mobility, and not just the vehicles.
- Especially in South Africa there is a huge market for solar energy and, because the sun is not always shining, that gives rise to the need for storage facilities.
- This is where we utilise second-life EV batteries, which are retired from EVs and can be reused to store energy.
- When you think about using the battery in our car to support your home environment, it starts getting exciting.
- EVs or traditional vehicles are only used between 5% and 7% of the time because, most of the time, they are parked either in the garage at home or in the parking lot at work.
- EV technology is looking to exploit that opportunity to support the energy system.
20:01 – What are the different battery types available in the market?
- There is a huge evolution in battery technology.
- In the old internal combustion engine there used to be lead acid batteries which were used to start the vehicle and power the lights and other items in the vehicle.
- The lead acid was replaced with lithium ion batteries. Lithium technology is the main driver in electric vehicles as well as the new-generation internal combustion engine.
- There are various types of lithium combinations out there, like phosphate or cobalt or other technologies.
- Each manufacturer has a different preference and so the list is endless, but lithium composition is the main type of component in batteries.
21:31 – How do OEMs differentiate themselves in battery technology compared to others?
- When it comes to competition, it comes down to battery safety and energy density, but safety is a big concern.
23:27 – Do we have battery regulations for the safety of products coming into the market?
- That is very important because standardisation is critical for everything. It is what protects the consumer.
- Internationally, we have standards that are being developed and, in most cases, we adopt those standards.
- Our staff contributes in the international forum on the IEC as well as the SABS technical committees to make sure that we standardise products in South Africa.
25:07 – Can ordinary citizens import their own cells into the country and use them?
- This is the role of authorities but, as we know, innovation and market developments move ahead before regulation comes in.
- This is what certainly needs to be addressed by the authorities because, if not, we will have inferior products coming in.
- We have alerted authorities to look into that and we expect some revisions in terms of specific criteria for lithium ion batteries coming into South Africa.
- As much as you want to increase affordability and access to battery products, you don’t want to compromise the safety of these products.
- There has to be balance between innovation and regulation.