Finding Inspiration for Innovation in an African Automotive Game-Changer
I recently read an article about an up-and-coming automotive manufacturer that’s beginning to make a splash in a niche market. Starting off with a complete rethink of vehicle design, their main aim is to create a car that’s easy to maintain and has a low long-term cost of ownership. The company built a new platform, carried out extensive research into their potential customer base, and set up local manufacturing facilities.
So far, so counter-intuitive for those of us who work in the high-tech automotive sector, where unit cost and time-to-market is king.
The company, Kenyan start-up Mobius Motors, launched in 2010 and their first production vehicle, The Mobius II, hit showrooms across Kenya at the end of last year at a price of Sh950,000 (US$ 9,500) making it the lowest priced new vehicle in the country. At around the cost of a 10-year-old Toyota Corolla, it’s a game changer. With its rugged, simple design, it’s built to withstand the rough roads that make mincemeat out of standard car suspension and it has easily accessible components that are cheap to repair.
The innovation here lies in the concept of a vehicle platform that is low enough in cost to allow entrepreneurs to own and maintain them, while opening up business opportunities in areas that have poor infrastructure and logistics channels.
The range of businesses is vast, from public transport, to mobile medical care, to goods delivery –which could transform Africa’s transport network.
Reading about Mobius made me reflect that just because innovation is about creating a new idea or method, it’s valuable to look backwards as well as forwards for inspiration. When you’re starting a new project and looking to understand what will work the best for your customers and the market you’re aiming at there are always new ways of thinking, even in the toughest of situations.
- How can you think differently about innovation in your company?
- Is there good practice that you may be less quick to embrace because it’s less high-tech?
We’ve been having some great conversations about how we can think differently and innovatively at our Zuken Innovation World conferences around the globe during the spring.