Home African CEOs Profiles How Neil Du Preez Has Changed the Face of Transportation in South Africa
Profiles - August 8, 2022

How Neil Du Preez Has Changed the Face of Transportation in South Africa

Climate change is an ever-present threat to the world’s economy, and it is estimated that as much as 18 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product could be wiped out by 2050 if the global temperature rises by 3.2°C.

But while the scourge of climate change is a global phenomenon, the African continent feels much of the impact; that is why some African entrepreneurs are very much involved in efforts to find sustainable solutions to the regressive weather pattern that endangers the continued survival.

One African entrepreneur at the forefront of this noble quest is South African genius Neil du Preez.

Preez, an automobile expert, is the founder of the light automobile utility company MellowCab. They are the manufacturers of The revolutionary eco-friendly vehicle popularly called MellowVan. 

The auto concept was developed in mid-2015 as Preez sought new ways to change the urban transport landscape in South Africa to reduce its carbon footprint and make it more affordable. 

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Who is Neil Du Preez

The South African once described himself as someone passionate about urban transport and the development of last-mile delivery solutions.

His contribution to creating eco-friendly solutions in automobiles has earned him global accolades, including Global Gifted Citizen Award, African Entrepreneurship Award, and Siemens Foundation’s Empowering People Award.

He is also regarded as a thought leader in the global fight against climate change. And has been invited to speak at major climate change conferences like World Bank’s South African Sustainability Conference, Microsoft’s BizSpark program, and the Durban Innovation Summit.

How Neil Du Preez Founded MellowCab

The concept of MellowCab started in 2015 when Preez began to worry about the carbon implications of using a traditional taxi for transportation. 

According to him, 80% of urban trips take less than 4 kilometres. He insisted that it is inefficient to use taxis for such a short journey, and Preez thought it would make better sense to come up with a smaller and more economical alternative. So he came up with the concept of building locally-produced electric vehicles, which he called MellowCab.

Mellowcabs is an electric three-wheeled vehicle designed for eco-friendly and efficient transportation in urban areas.

The entrepreneur started by building eight MellowCab prototypes, which he subjected to many tests.

Source: Bizcommunity

As soon as the prototypes hit the roads, demands began to roll in. First, the advertisers showed interest; then, the company started to grow steadily until it became a part of the transport system in South Africa.

Commenting on the vehicle, Perez said, “We have developed ultra-rigid roll cage, safety belts and proximity sensors for the vehicles, and some will be fitted with doors. I also recognize there are some security issues in South Africa. In very slow-moving traffic, there is a risk of bag-snatching. Passengers will be able to use lockable baggage areas underneath the seat to keep the property safe.”

From MellowCab to MellowVan

Over the years, the business environment changed rapidly, forcing Perez to tweak its business model as the company diverted from moving passengers to moving cargo. This gave birth to what is now called MellowVan, which is more of an electric delivery van.

MellowVans provide low-cost, efficient and emission-free delivery services in cities.

The company also noted that MellowVan has less maintenance cost and downtime and higher operating efficiency. 

Each of the MellowVans makes use of lithium-ion battery cells that come from Asia. The batteries are then assembled in a plant in Western Cape by MellowCabs.

Source: LinkedIn

However, the company has stressed that it is on the way to attaining complete production in South Africa. Perez reveals that the manufacturing plant is almost completed, and the ISO has been secured.

Meanwhile, the EV batteries which power MellowVans are seen as more environmentally friendly than gas emissions. More so, they can be recycled.

According to its website, MellowVans has enough cargo space to deliver almost anything and can offer cold chain solutions. MellowVans cater to almost every e-commerce player. 

Other important features of the van include:

  • More than enough room for parcels
  • Affordable enough to deliver food
  • Lockable cargo area
  • 4 Cubic metres of cargo space
  • Custom racking

MellowVan’s business evolution

As a result of its evolution from transporting passengers to delivering cargoes, MellowVan, now handles deliveries for top multinational e-commerce companies like DHL, Mr Delivery, and TakeaLot, among others.

Perez says he sees a future where daily consumables like milk, bread etc. can be delivered daily.

He reveals that his company could also explore the possibilities of a contactless delivery system like self-driving technologies. But he is not a fan of drone deliveries. 

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