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Is this the Perfect Car for Africa?

Most modern cars are not suitable for the harsh conditions of Africa – they’re too complex, too computerised and too difficult to maintain.

That’s why a new, simpler car called Turtle 1 has recently attracted attention. It was designed by a Dutch university and local car repairers in Ghana and can be built using scrap parts in plain, outdoor workshops.

Some people say that it could be the perfect car for Africa – let’s take a look and see what it’s all about.

Features of Turtle 1

The main aim of Turtle 1’s designers was to keep it simple.

Nothing overly complex, too expensive or difficult to maintain.

So when the designers came together to design the car, they bore a few basic criteria in mind:

  • It had to be built from used car parts
  • It had to be robust, easy to assemble and repair
  • It had to be able to be built within 12 weeks

And so the design was kept simple.

The Turtle 1 has no computers or electronics – it’s entirely mechanical and can use the engine taken from another car.

The body of the vehicle is designed to maximise the amount of cargo it can carry and it can be driven with the doors open if necessary.

Easy to manufacture

Since each side of the Turtle 1 is relatively flat, it doesn’t require any particularly sophisticated equipment during the manufacturing process.

Simple press and cutting tools can be used to shape each panel and most of the materials needed can be taken from used cars – keeping the production costs low.

And while this isn’t a car that could be mass-produced, it could be a cost-effective way to re-use old car parts.

Other popular cars in Africa

But re-using old car parts isn’t the only way to create affordable driving solutions.

Africa is one of the largest importers of used cars and the Toyota Land Cruiser has been a popular car in Africa for over 40 years.

Powerful, reliable and robust, this vehicle can cope with tough terrain and severe conditions – even in desert heat. It’s comfortable when the roads are rough, has a good load-carrying capacity and has a spacious cabin for long drives.

In fact, used Japanese cars are often exported to Africa – they’re high quality, reliable and affordable and vehicles made by Toyota, Nissan and Mazda are particularly popular.

So this is an alternative solution for driving in Africa – but is it the best?

Perhaps you’ve driven in Africa or have experience driving in harsh conditions – if you have, let us know what you think below.

December 22, 2013