Mobius Leads Path Toward Local Manufacturing For African Consumers

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
mobius leads path toward local manufacturing for african consumers

Today, 50 units from Nairobi-based manufacturer Mobius are set to be delivered to customers, marking the first step for the company as it aims to prove Kenya — and the continent of Africa — can produce just as well as it supplies raw materials.

Reuters reports the vehicle, known as the II, will go for KSh950,000 ($10,500 USD) before taxes, and is meant to tackle the rough roads the Chinese have yet to pave over. Thus, for ease of maintenance and repairs, the II has little more than a front windscreen, minimal electronics, and a sturdy suspension upon which its aluminum body rests. Forty-five percent of the vehicle is derived from local sources, while the engine and other pieces come from outside suppliers.

Mobius joins Ugandan automaker Kiira Motor Project in designing, building and selling an African-made vehicle for Africa, overcoming long-standing concerns that the continent cannot make anything like the II for its people, let alone the rest of the world; the last attempt by a local concern — the Nyayo Pioneer in 1990 — fell apart soon after production began.

So far, Mobius is doing well for itself with its business model, with enquiries from neighboring nations, western Africa and beyond. Kiira, meanwhile, received an initial commitment of $70 million from the Ugandan government, and is seeking a total of $350 million to build a factory for its planned vehicle, a $20,000 sedan in the vein of the Toyota Camry aimed at office workers and executives.

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  • EAF EAF on Dec 11, 2014

    Honestly, what is most appealing to me about the Mobius II is the wide availability of parts sourced from The Home Depot.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Dec 11, 2014

    The design does remind me of the IH Scout which would be a good body to start with and then add all the safety and better drive train to and you could have something very marketable even in the US.

  • Infinitime Infinitime on Dec 11, 2014

    The right tool for the right job... there is a certain minimalist appeal to this vehicle, which seems to be well suited to the purpose it is designed for. As to the engine, the performance specs of the 1,598cc engine are suspiciously similar to those found in the Dacia Logan engine of the same displacement. Pictures of the two engine also suggest very similar layouts, with placement of various electrical component in the same locations, and exhaust manifold heat shields that look identical.... A licensed Renault engine perhaps?

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    • Petezeiss Petezeiss on Dec 11, 2014

      @Lie2me No one else being left alive would tremendously enhance its safety rating.

  • Andrewa Andrewa on Dec 13, 2014

    I find crumple zones and air bags to be overrated in Africa and rather keep an exceedingly sharp lookout. The affirmative action truck driver in this video has a forged drivers license and managed 540 Kilometers before hitting anyone....note Toyota Hi Aces ( About 50% of drivers licenses in South Africa are either forged or bought with a bribe to the examiner as the test is easier than California's (I know as I have both).

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    • Andrewa Andrewa on Dec 13, 2014

      @Lie2me Because less than 20% of South Africans have a high school diploma so they wont pass without bribery. Also a drivers liscence is a qualification in that it almost certainly gaurantees a job (our unemployment rate has increased from 7% to about 40%-50% in the last 20 or so years since the end of apartheid)