Mobius II: A Car Built In Africa By Africans For Africans

By providing Africans with affordable, reliable, basic transportation, Nairobi-based auto manufacturer Mobius Motors hopes to succeed where others have failed. The long, unpaved and potholed road to success lies just ahead as the first fifty units of the company's one and only model, the Mobius II, are about to be delivered to customers.

Africans face a host of problems when buying a car or truck. As there is virtually no local manufacturing of such vehicles, they must be imported.

Besides being costly, these vehicles are often not suited to African road conditions leading to frequent maintenance which is costly over the long term.

Mobius is seeking to break free from this vicious circle by building vehicles designed to handle Africa's primitive road network. In addition, by building vehicles in Africa the company supports the local economy: no doubt workers at the Mobius factory will consider buying a Mobius II of their own. Henry Ford created a similar sort of synergy a century ago as the first Tin Lizzies came down the assembly line.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel,” explains Aman Ghai, Mobius' sales manager, “we are just trying to make... one that is a bit tougher.” Priced at KSh950,000 ($10,500) before taxes, the Mobius II certainly looks tough – and rough as well.

Consider the fact that besides its windscreen the Mobius II has NO windows. Call it air conditioning, Africa-style! Electronics are at a bare minimum since the less there are, the less there is to break down.

Mobius was founded by Joel Jackson, a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Great Britain but don't be fooled: the company is as grass-roots oriented as possible. Jackson, who worked in rural Kenya in 2009 and saw first-hand the need for such a vehicle – realized that doing the design work in Africa would help company engineers focus on the real-world needs of their customers.

Take the Mobius II's back seats, for example. They run along the sides and when cargo needs to be loaded, they quickly fold up and out of the way. Got a LOT of cargo? The seats can be removed entirely in mere minutes.

As for the powertrain, a 1,598cc inline four provides 86 horsepower working through a 5-speed manual transmission. Nothing too fancy... but that's just how the Mobius II rolls. (via Reuters)