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Shared LEVs in Sub-Saharan Africa: sustainable assessment and social acceptance

The Sustainable Technologies Laboratory, headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Semih Severengiz, researches and tests sustainable mobility concepts, including sharing models for Light Electric Vehicles in sub-Saharan Africa. At the 8th International Electric Vehicle Conference in Edinburgh research results from projects about electric mobility were presented. 

The international dialogue within the research community is of great importance for the desired change towards environmentally compatible technological solutions and energy resources. The International Electric Vehicle Conference, hosted by Napier University, Edinburgh, provides the scientific framework for the intensive exchange of ideas and experiences on electric mobility topics and took place for the eighth time in Edinburgh, UK, from 21-23 June 2023.  

As part of the thematically diverse program with international contributions, Oskar Bauer presented the paper "Social Acceptance and Sustainability Assessment of Light Electric Vehicles in Ghana" written by Frederick Adjei, Eric Mensah, Tobias Pflug, Oskar Bauer and Semih Severengiz. The paper addresses following research questions: What factors influence the social acceptance of Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) as well as their sharing system in Ghana? Are LEVs suitable for Ghanaian conditions? How can the sustainability of LEVs and the sharing system in Ghana be assessed using a set of criteria?  

The presented social acceptance study for Sub-Saharan Africa has a unique character, since until now empirical studies on sharing systems have often focused on local conditions in industrialised countries; for sub-Saharan countries hardly any data are available so far.

The authors of the study chose a mixed approach of track testing, participant interviews and group discussions. In a further step, they used the results to create a catalogue of criteria according to Goedkopp et al. based on the areas of economic, ecological and social aspects.

The following results were found: the most important factors for social acceptance and the successful implementation of sharing models in Ghana are the question of cost, availability, user-friendliness, and the location of the vehicles. Environmental sustainability, on the other hand, did not emerge as a driving factor. Another important result of the study was that LEVs produced for the western market need to be adapted to the local infrastructure conditions in Ghana, such as larger vehicle tires for an increased traction, higher ground clearance to ensure driving on unsurfaced roads and the improvement of the vehicles' robustness. 

The presentation by Oskar Bauer was followed with great interest by the audience, and the results, especially the question of the rentability for the use of sharing models, were lively discussed. Despite the thematic focus on the energy supply of cars and commercial vehicles, participation in the conference was a rewarding exchange and a good opportunity to present the research status of the laboratory as well as to receive scientific feedback. 

The full paper is available in the Book of Abstract, an official publication in a final report about the conference is in planning.