The construction of our first prototype involved five main stages from the initial build of the frame to final finishing work. This page outlines those stages.
To build our first prototype we adapted a standard sand rail design to fit the specifications of locally available off-the-shelf parts and the aesthetics of a car. At each stage in the construction process we overcame a multitude of challenges to create a robust vehicle with local equipment and labour in Kenya.
The frame is the core of our vehicle and forms the connection point for most systems. To build the frame we cut, bent and welded tubular steel pipes to form a robust monocoque structure. Square pipes were used as the base of the chasis and round pipes were used throughout the rest of the frame. We also incorporated crumple zones into the front and rear of the frame to ensure passenger safety. The frame was later extended by custom fabricated mountings which hold the vehicle systems in place. The relative simplicity of this low cost construction approach forms the basis of a highly scalable production process.
We integrate cost effective vehicle parts onto the core frame to create the same basic functionality as a normal car while focusing on key aspects of performance such as suspension and steering. Over the course of several months we purchased systems in Mombasa and Nairobi from a range of manufacturers. For example, Mobius One includes a 2000cc Toyota engine, Rob's Magic suspension springs and Yamaha transmission cables. The local availability of these types of systems throughout Africa means our vehicles will be relatively easy to assemble and maintain. Over the next year we will begin importing larger quantities of systems directly from Japan to further reduce the production cost and achieve our vehicle price point goal of $6,000.
Vehicle assembly involves the fitting of purchased systems onto the core frame. To connect systems onto the frame we fabricated custom mountings from thick metal plate which we welded directly onto the core structure. At this stage we made minor iterative modifications to the frame mountings to ensure a good fit with the relevant parts. Many of these parts were balanced and aligned around the engine which was rear mounted on Mobius One. We also fabricated other more specialised components of the vehicle such as pedals, wheel studs and the hand brake mechanism. Scaling this assembly approach with systematised processes and appropriate equipment to produce vehicles at factory level is extremely viable.
Vehicle testing is essential to validate the performance of the car and identify necessary improvements. To ensure suitability for off-road and on-road driving we tested Mobius One in a variety of environments over several months. During this time we encountered and overcame several major challenges including wheel alignment, engine overheating and suspension strength which we were able to address as a result of prototype testing. Robust and thourough vehicle testing is an area Mobius will invest in heavily over the coming years to guarantee the highest possible standards of safety in all of our cars. This includes crash testing which we have not yet performed with Mobius One.
Finishing is the final stage in the construction of our vehicles and promotes the car from a working vehicle to a marketable product. We used a combination of aluminium sheets and canvas material to form an exterior shell around the core frame to create most of the aesthetic styling on Mobius One. The dashboard unit was also fabricated from aluminium sheets. Both aluminium and canvas provide a unique flexibility to shape as well as being light weight and cost effective. After fitting all metal plates to the frame using rivets we then grinded, sanded and painted the vehicle body. At this stage we also cut and fitted custom laminated glass for all windows and crafted the Mobius emblem. The finished prototype vehicle can be seen throughout the site.