RLE International, Inc., a global engineering firm with two locations in Michigan, today announced an agreement with Ugandan automotive manufacturer Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), which is expected to begin manufacturing affordable vehicles for the African consumer market. Under the terms of the agreement, announced at an open house celebrating the company's 30th anniversary, RLE International will deliver a broad array of business development, engineering and integration support to the automaker, which are expected to make Kiira (which is the local name for the Nile River) the first true East African automotive manufacturer.
According to the agreement, RLE International initially will develop the business case for KMC's entry into the automotive market in Uganda. The contract commissions RLE International to evaluate the environmental and market conditions for automotive production in Uganda over six months, to develop an entry strategy, and to develop short-, medium- and long-range plans for KMC and the industry, including providing the company with an execution and a risk-mitigation strategy.
The second phase of the project will be engineering designing and developing vehicles, based on the findings of the business case. Vehicles are targeted to be manufactured on an already acquired 100-acre site in the Jinja Industrial Park, located about eighty kilometers Northeast of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. In all, the multi-phase project is expected to begin assembling vehicles in 2018.
"We're proud to support Kiira Motors Corporation in the logistics, development and launch of vehicle manufacturing in Uganda," said Rob Kokx, president of RLE International in The Americas. "Kiira Motors' knowledge of the market, combined with RLE International's significant global experience and depth in vehicle development, is expected to be a winning combination in this increasingly urbanized country whose main industry today is agriculture.
Passenger Rail ADA-Compliant Extending Boarding Platform and Lightweight Bridge Plates
RLE International also demonstrated a working prototype of a modular passenger rail Setback Level Boarding Platform – an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant transition platform that mitigates the gap between passenger railcars and boarding platforms when boarding and detraining at shared use rail stations. A key element of the boarding system – introduced at the open house at RLE International's Prototype & Build Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan – also includes a series of new, lightweight composite bridge plates. The bridge plates securely span the gap between the extended boarding platform and the railcar door, providing a smooth, seamless, safe and independent opportunity for passengers with a disability to board and detrain. The RLE International engineered bridge plate models weigh between 17 and 20 lbs. – about half the weight of current aluminum units.
A field test for the modular Setback Level Boarding Platform will be installed this summer in Ann Arbor, Mich., with consumer testing scheduled to begin in late July. The platform enables level platform-to-train boarding that utilizes a modular platform section that mechanically extends approximately four feet toward a passenger train after the train has stopped. The device effectively bridges the distance that exists between the station level boarding platform and the passenger railcar. This gap exists on shared use tracks that see both passenger and freight traffic where the extra clearance is required for wide load carrying freight railcars.
RLE International conducted extensive field studies during boarding and detraining passenger trains that were comprised of workshops that included an integrated team of RLE engineers and a broad spectrum of people with disabilities including people who use wheeled mobility devices. "While accessible solutions exist today to aid passengers with a disability," Kokx said, "RLE was able to better address the needs of a person with disabilities to board and detrain from a personalized perspective. Leveraging RLE's expertise, the end result is a much more integrated, accessible and inclusive approach, making boarding and detraining a seamless and comfortable experience for all rail passengers, including those with a disability."
Open House Draws International Visitors
The Kiira Motors Corporation agreement announcement and the Passenger Rail Setback Level Boarding Platform/bridge plate demonstration were part of an open house celebrating RLE International's 30 years of service to the global automotive, mobility and energy industries. The event included a capabilities demonstration and facility tour for media and invited dignitaries, as well as an open house for the public including international attendees. In addition to RLE International President in The Americas Rob Kokx and RLE International employees, other key attendees included:
- • Kirk Steudle, Director MDOT (speaker)
- • Vicky Rad, Deputy Director of Macomb County (speaker)
- • Dr. Darren Gowland, Group VP International Operations, RLE International
- • Sharon Blumeno, Business Development Executive, Automation Alley
- • Glenn Stevens, Vice President, MICHAuto & Strategic Development, Detroit Regional Chamber
- • Martina Schlagwein, European Business Attraction Manager of MEDC
- • Drew Coleman, Business Development Manager of MEDC
- • Mark Vanderpool, Sterling Heights City Manager
- • Dieter Lehnert, German American Chamber of Commerce of Midwest, USA
ABOUT RLE INTERNATIONAL
RLE International is a global engineering firm, celebrating 30 years of providing innovative engineering solutions to its automotive and commercial customers. The company has more than 1,500 employees at 17 global locations.