SA weapon maker launches electric buses and scooters – with solar charging stations

Rheinmetall Denel Munition electric bus (Image supplied)

  • Rheinmetall, the German-headquartered automotive and arms manufacturer, wants to be carbon neutral by 2035.
  • To do this in South Africa, its subsidiary, Rheinmetall Denel Munition, is phasing out internal combustion vehicles and replacing them with electric alternatives.
  • Electrically powered buses were recently introduced at the company’s Somerset West and Boskop plants.
  • Electric scooters, bikes, and “e-bakkies”, which will be used to transport employees around facilities, are also part of the plan.
  • These electric vehicles will be charged by solar-powered stations, which have already been installed.
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South African arms manufacturer Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) is introducing electric vehicles and solar-powered charging stations at its facilities to reduce its carbon footprint.

Rheinmetall, the German-headquartered automotive and arms manufacturer, which is the majority owner of South Africa’s RDM, wants to be carbon neutral by 2035. To achieve this climate-conscious goal, the company is investing in electric vehicles and solar power at facilities across the world, including South Africa.

The first phase of this process in South Africa will see more than 350 internal combustion vehicles cut from the RDM fleet and replaced with electric alternatives.

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The company recently introduced electrically powered buses at its Somerset West and Boskop plants. Electric scooters, bikes, and “e-bakkies”, which will be used for transport around the plants, are also part of the plan. These new electric vehicles were recently unveiled by Jan Patrick Helmsen, CEO of RDM, at the Somerset West facility.

“As part of the Rheinmetall organisation, which has set itself the goal of being climate neutral by 2035, RDM is supporting this ambitious objective with a masterplan that involves implementation of solar energy and green hydrogen, which, along with other projects in the renewable energy domain, are intended to lead to climate neutrality,” said Helmsen.

“An important step here is our move away from the internal combustion engine in our fleet of vehicles, with a completely new mobility concept at all four RDM locations in South Africa.”

Replacing internal combustion vehicles with electric alternatives for the purpose of moving around RDM facilities is significant when considering that the company occupies 5,000 hectares of land in South Africa. RDM employees could soon book a ride in an electric bus or car from individual locations within facilities through an already existing “app-based system”, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition electric vehicles with

Rheinmetall Denel Munition electric bike (Image supplied)

The electric scooters and bikes, RDM explained, “will operate along much of the same lines as a rent-a-bike system in large European cities and elsewhere, where a bicycle can be booked and picked up at a specific station, and then dropped off afterwards at any other charging station.”

These solar-powered electronic charging stations, which have already been installed at RDM plants, allow bikes and scooters to be recharged without drawing energy from the country’s embattled grid.

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