This Dubai start-up converts cars to electric vehicles in Yemeni villages

They aim to introduce environmentally friendly transportation to rural communities, emphasising sustainable solutions for the region

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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UAE's first dedicated EV Conversion. Photo: Supplied
UAE's first dedicated EV Conversion. Photo: Supplied

Published: Fri 8 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Dec 2023, 8:46 PM

A Dubai-based electric vehicle (EV) start-up, Fuse EV Conversions, is all set to empower residents of a remote village in Yemen. The company specialises in electric powertrain solutions and has joined forces with the International Training Development Center (ITDC), a training centre dedicated to assisting young Yemenis. Together, they aim to introduce environmentally friendly transportation to rural communities in Yemen, emphasising sustainable solutions for the region.

"We have been working on this project for several months," said co-founder of Fuse, Salman Hussain. "It required us to go back to the drawing board and re-imagine and rework everything we have done so far. After months of brainstorming, we are finally at a stage where we can start doing tests on the ground."

The partnership also involves the global non-profit organisation LM International, which is in some of the world's highly vulnerable communities in more than 80 countries. It will see Fuse retrofitting existing vehicles, specifically the 6th generation dual cab Toyota Hilux, with a smart IoT-enabled powertrain kit. The vehicle is currently on display in the blue zone of COP28.

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"Our shared vision of a sustainable, economically viable transportation solution for Yemen's villages is finally coming to fruition," said Mihai Stumbea, CTO of FUSE. "By converting existing vehicles, we're not only addressing the immediate mobility needs but also paving the way for a greener future."

Solar power

LM International and ITDC collaborated to construct a solar panel field to provide power to remote villages. The power produced by these panels was used to power pumps that provided them with water. "However, a lot of the power produced was not being utilised," said Salman. "That is when they approached us to build EV engines for vehicles in the village. There was a severe fuel shortage in the village, and this had impacted the life of the villagers."

Salman Hussain
Salman Hussain

For Fuse, which was established in 2022, this meant a mammoth task. "We had to design the engines in such a way that it could be easily installed by anyone," said Salman. "It also had to perfectly fit the chosen vehicle and should not require any drilling or complicated work."

It took the team months of brainstorming and work to finally develop a product. "We had to colour-code everything," said Mihai. "And this is extremely difficult when we have 32 32-pin battery connector. We then shot a tutorial video. This will allow anyone to be able to install the engine within just four or five hours."

Intense survey

According to Lee Pitts, Project Coordinator at LM International, the Toyota Hilux was a choice made after an intense survey. "Our partners spoke to hundreds of villagers," he said. "The intention was to make it easy for them to conduct multiple activities. The most common car was something like a Landcruiser. However, this could not be used to carry people to and fro or buy things from the market."

Eventually, the Hilux was chosen because it could transport both people and goods. "In the Hilux, there was an option to choose between the single and dual cab models," said Lee. "The single cab has a single row of seats, which requires the driver and passengers to sit together. However, during the field research, our partners found that women in the villages do not sit next to the driver. So, if we picked the single cab model, it would create problems for the thousands of women in the market. That is why a dual cab Hilux was shortlisted, and we designed the EV engine for it."

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