SA entrepreneur wins US tech prize

2014-02-23 10:13
Neil du Preez in one of his mellowcabs. (Pic supplied)

Neil du Preez in one of his mellowcabs. (Pic supplied)

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Cape Town - South African entrepreneur Neil du Preez and his Mellowcabs electric microcab have won a prize in a prestigious global technology competition.

Du Preez won the regional Smart Cities category of the 1776 Challenge Cup  – which identifies and celebrates the most promising international start-ups tackling the biggest challenges facing the world in education, health, energy, and smart cities.

Mellowcabs also recently made the Forbes list of Seven Most Innovating Ideas from Africa – the only product from SA to make the list.

Du Preez on Saturday said he was thrilled that Mellowcabs won the prize, giving him the opportunity to travel to the US to take part in the final.

Regional winners get all-expenses-paid travel to the US for one week, where they compete in the final, get a chance to meet with investors, other entrepreneurs and obtain significant exposure for their companies.

“I have been working on the idea for Mellowcabs for several years now and it is very exciting to get this kind of recognition right before we are set to launch,” said Du Preez.

His idea for Mellowcabs was inspired by the need for more efficient and environmentally-friendly transport especially in cities.

His high-tech electric microcabs are manufactured almost entirely from recycled materials and are ideal for commuters needing transport for short distances of about 3km - with zero carbon emissions to boot.

Mellowcabs can travel more than 100km per day and offer great advertising and social media integration features. It contains cutting edge technologies like regenerative braking, illuminated body panels as well as on-board tablet computers.

“The idea is to take people from bus or train stations to restaurants, bars, work or back home. About 80% of the distances that people drive in cities are less than 3km,” said Du Preez.

The SABS recently declared Mellowcabs to be roadworthy, clearing the way for the launch of the microcab in the V&A Waterfront in April this year.

A trip in a Mellowcab will cost a passenger about R15. The battery can last about 110km and is recharged by simply plugging it into a wall socket.

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