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An e-tractor for Africa - and for New York

With sustainable e-mobility, Volkswagen is taking a new path to drive social progress in Africa. A special exhibit is part of an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

An electric tractor for Africa - and for New York

Thomas Schäfer
CEO of Volkswagen South Africa

Traditional African living conditions, climate change and population growth - an international team of Volkswagen experts has taken all these factors into account to develop an e-tractor study and an associated ecosystem. The aim is to enable new and sustainable forms of micro-agriculture and mobility in rural Africa. "The concept of the e-tractor could change the lives of many people in rural regions of Africa from the ground up," says Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen South Africa.

The project was developed in cooperation between Volkswagen Group Innovation and Volkswagen Group South Africa. The concept study celebrates its premiere as part of the exhibition Countryside, The Future, shown by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, which opens on February 20, 2020. This makes Volkswagen the only cooperation partner to contribute an exhibit to the Display.

“We must not forget the fact that a smaller number of people in rural areas have to supply those in the cities"

Rem Koolhaas Dutch architect
Rem Koolhaas
Dutch architect and urbanist

The exhibition focuses on the far-reaching changes in the environment, politics, infrastructure and society to which rural areas around the world are exposed. These require new approaches from science, business and politics, which have so far been given too little consideration. "But what we must not forget is the fact that a smaller number of people in rural areas have to supply those in the cities," notes Dutch architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas. Together with his research office OMA he created "Countryside, The Future".

E-mobility thought from start to finish

Peter Wouda
Design Director of the Volkswagen Group Innovation Center

In many rural regions of Africa, harvest productivity is limited because farmers hardly use any machinery. However, this is not necessarily due to the availability of technical equipment, but to access to fuels. "But what there is enough of in these regions is sun," says Peter Wouda, Design Director of the Volkswagen Group Innovation Center.

Wouda is part of the development team for the e-tractor research project, the idea for which came from Holger Lange's Volkswagen Group Innovation. The idea includes decentralized solar panels that can charge the batteries of the tractor but also of other vehicles or machines and at the same time act as antennas for mobile internet or as shade providers. "The idea is about much more than mobility. It is a sharing and community concept," says Wouda.

In the next stage of the e-tractor project, Volkswagen Group South Africa will intensify its cooperation with African partners from science, society and business in order to investigate technical details of the sharing approach and its feasibility on site. Volkswagen and AMO will also continue their joint research work to examine developments in rural areas in greater detail and develop possible solutions for future mobility requirements.

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