Home / Car News / A Look At The First Tanzanian Electric Car, Created by a Cartoonist

A Look At The First Tanzanian Electric Car, Created by a Cartoonist

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The list of car companies founded by cartoonists is pretty short, even if you count Ziggurat Industries, the company founded by Ziggy comic strip creator Tom Wilson that built a flat-16 monster of a supercar back in the 1970s. Most don’t count that one, because I just made it up. But I bet you could count Kaypee Motors, founded by Tanzanian cartoonist Masoud Kipanya. The company recently showed its first car, a small EV pickup truck.

Kipanya’s cartoons seem to revolve around a family of what I think are big-eyed mouse-people, and in recent tweets of these cartoons, it looks like Kipanya has been promoting the launch of Kaypee Motors, as you can see on the banner here:

The caption on that one translates to “first for what electricity,” but I think I’m too ignorant of the overall context to understand what’s going on.

What I can at least try to understand more is the truck itself, which seems to be called the KPA72. Here’s a video clip of it being unveiled to a crowd at the launch event:

Looking at it, it’s an interesting little EV truck, and, based on what little visual information I have to go on, I’d think that it’s likely built from parts from a Chinese small-EV supplier, much like the Pickman truck I reviewed for Jalopnik last year.

The proportions and general mechanical layout of the KPA72 are similar to the Pickman, which is built by the Chinese company Kaiyun Motors.

Like the Pickman, the KPA72 has a small front trunk, and appears to have a battery pack under the seat and part of the bed. The body panels are different, with some unique styling in the front especially, and I don’t necessarily think this is based on a Kaiyun product.

The bed certainly looks longer, for example, and the cab, while similarly upright in proportion, is made up of different stampings.

What this appears to be is possibly a truck based on components similar to the Pickman and many other small Chinese EV machines, cars that are a step or two up from my Changli, but still quite small by conventional car standards.

The only specs given were that it should have a range of about 30 to 40 miles on a full charge, which should only take about four hours of recharging time. If I had to guess, I’d think that this little brute had a five-ish horsepower electric motor mounted to a solid rear axle, and had simple but robust construction.

Kipanya said the truck took 11 months to conceive and build, which seems reasonable if the company was working with a supplier in China for components and having its own custom body panels designed and manufactured.

The goal is to sell the truck for the rough equivalent of $3,500 US dollars, which seems about the right cost for a small EV workhorse like this.

Honestly, this is a pretty smart vehicle for an East African country like Tanzania, which would have a large market for a very affordable, basic, yet rugged EV that needs to be able to haul things and be cheap to run more than it would ever need to go fast or be sleek.

A left front three-quarter shot of the Kaypee KPA72, a Tanzanian electric truck

I have no idea how all of this may play out, but personally I think it’s a great plan, and I hope Kaypee Motors pulls off becoming Tanzania’s first local EV carmaker.

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16 Responses

  1. I know you love these little electric shitboxes, but did you see the recent video of two of them being crash tested? One looks like a Changli and the total carnage form a minor collision between the two makes me afraid for anyone willing to pilot one of these death traps on American roads, or any roads in general.

  2. A dear friend of mine is a veteran ornithologist who has spent years studying in Tanzania. As he’s in the market for a new pickup truck I immediately sent him your article. Here’s his take on the cartoon:

    “‘Kwanza kwa umeme gani?’ Is saying ‘First with what electricity?’ Which I interpret to mean, ‘how am I going to charge an electric vehicle since I don’t have access to electricity?’
    90%+ of Tanzanians are cooking that pot of beans on firewood or charcoal.”

    1. Local grid electricity. At least from the perspective of this privileged American, not having to depend on centralized power stations/distribution systems and instead producing the electricity via solar or other renewables to store and use locally may be a better model for remote or developing areas. So yeah, the food might be cooked on firewood or charcoal for now, but cell phones are being charged, houses have some LED lights, and stores and medical clinics have refrigeration, at least initially. Expand that, you can start charging these tiny pickups and not have to rely on expensive fuel imports and getting them delivered to your remote area. And if a diesel generator is being used to charge the EVs for now, they still don’t depend on large electrical infrastructure.

      Your friend has the same chicken and egg thinking that Americans use with EVs, and he’s thinking in the present, and not the potential near future. Of course, if your community isn’t improving their electrical generation anytime soon, you’re not in the market for the tiny pickup.

    1. Yeah, that was driving me crazy. It looks like they took the vehicle to MULTIPLE events where it was photographed and documented for new outlets and publicity without removing some of the packing materials.

      Either it is a deliberate style choice and the finished product is intended to look like it has plastic cobwebs stuck everywhere, or they simply forgot to remove that stuff before unveiling the vehicle at multiple venues. Both seem so unlikely as to be impossible, and yet there has to be an explanation…

  3. I don’t understand the language but why didn’t you call out the Easter egg in the video. It appears from the launch video that when one buys a KPA72, you also get a USB stick with a knock of Rocky-theme song of Eye of the tiger, and also enrolled in the Kilamanjaro Institute of Technology so you can learn how to use the truck for IT, Business administration and hospitality services. This is vertical integration at its finest.

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