A few days ago, I had to take my car in for servicing. There was a problem with the gasket which had led to oil leaking. I needed that fixed and also had to refill my engine oil. Before that, the fan belt in the engine had torn off, rendering my car immobile for three days.
I have a long list of problems with my petrol guzzling vehicle. Problems which have led to impromptu withdrawals of money from my bank account to fix these problems.
If you look around Accra, you see vehicles pumping out black/white smoke from the exhaust pipes as well as the frequent breakdown of cars on the side of the road. Most are probably due to poor maintenance. We all hoot and holler when the price of petrol goes up but we still head to the petrol stations to fill our tanks. Why? Because cars are a necessary evil and people rely on them to traverse this city we call Accra.
But what if we could all get cars that run better? What if we could all drive vehicles which didn’t pollute the air of this city and didn’t require much maintenance?
Of course, I’m talking about electric cars!
Let Me Have My Pipe Dream
First and foremost, I realize the complications of even trying to own and drive an electric car in Ghana. I even had a thought experiment about that (See: What Would It Take To Bring Electric Cars To Ghana: A Thought Experiment).
But bear with me for a bit. Let me try to explain why we may need to be future thinking and try to get the conversation started on electric cars in Ghana:
Breath Of Fresh Air
One of the best things about electric cars is the fact that they don’t emit fumes. It’s all electric! All electric cars use batteries which are housed in a section of the vehicle, which is usually underneath. That means a car ride is quiet and pollution free, with no worries about oil leaks or bad air.
With my current vehicle, it has to go through a series of checks and servicing which of course, puts a dent in my wallet. So I checked out what the servicing looks like for an electric car to compare the difference. Here is what Telsa’s maintenance and service plan looks like:
Do you notice what’s not here? Here’s what a regular petrol car’s servicing looks like. They include the following:
- Engine Oil
- Engine Filter
- Cabin Micro Filter(s)
- Engine Air Filter(s)
- Spark Plugs
- Remote Control/Key Battery
With my current vehicle, I have to worry about fan belts, engine oil, gasket, replacing spark plugs etc…
If I owned an electric car, that stress of maintenance significantly reduces. I would just have to worry about the battery running out or replacing a bad battery.
The Petrol Monopoly Is Strong
If you’ve been paying close attention, you might notice that Petrol stations are basically the Starbucks of Accra. There are petrol stations everywhere. You can’t drive for more than 10 mins before you see a petrol station.
This is where my dream of owning an electric car in Ghana falls apart: Where are you going to build an electric car charging station? The dream would be to have an electric charging station ,which was powered by solar.
Of course, you could try to charge your electric car at home but, given high rates of energy consumption, that’s going to be a very high electricity bill at the end of the month.
It’s easy to dream. But once you exit dreamland, reality has to set in. Trying to own an electric car in Ghana seems like a utopian fantasy. The amount of money you would need looks to be in the millions of cedis. The Ghanaian government probably has no incentive to replicate the model of both France and Britain, who are looking to bring electric cars to the masses. Would it be too far-fetched to have one? What year are we looking at? 2030?
And even if they did try, what year are we looking at seeing this through? 2030? 2040?
I’m a dreamer. A dreamer who would love to drive an electric car one day . The benefits of less maintenance costs and reduction of air pollution are all pluses but the reality is this, Ghana has other problems to fix.
But that doesn’t mean I will stop dreaming….