Claim that Zimbabwe designed first chargeless electric car disputed

Elon Musk

The claim: A Zimbabwean inventor created a chargeless electric vehicle

In 2013, CEO Elon Musk founded Tesla, which has become the largest American seller of electric vehicles. Social media posts claim a supposed inventor has “one upped” that.

Facebook users claim an Zimbabwean inventor who dropped out of school at age 14 created an electric car that does not need to be charged.

“He has become the first Zimbabwean to design and make an electric powered vehicle and a hybrid helicopter, among other gadgets through his company SAITH Technologies,” reads an Oct. 28 Facebook post that has been shared over 1,000 times. “The car uses radio frequencies to create energy and uses no moving parts.”

The rumor first started in 2015, when Zimbabwean tech news site Techzim was invited to an “Open Day” event to report on a company called Saith Technologies, which the outlet said it had never heard of.

“Has anyone ever heard of Saith Technologies? To be honest, I hadn’t until today,” wrote Victor Mukandatsama of Techzim. “The company will hold an open day to showcase technologies that they have been working on at the Bluffhill Industrial Park in Harare.”

Mukandatsama said the electric car project by Sangulani Maxwell Chikumbutso was “another interesting development considering the scarcity of energy and power in Africa.”

The promotional event gained a lot of media attention at the time from outlets such as South African news channel SABC Digital News.

Media outlet questions authenticity

All evidence that has been used throughout the years to support the alleged invention of electric car that needs no charge traces back to photos from the “Open Day” event.

The only images available on Saith Technologies’ Facebook and Twitter page are from that event, and the account has been inactive since 2015.

Leonard Sengere, editor of Techzim, told Snopes that one of its reporters attended the event and was given a tour of the “inventions.”

“The electric car and the generator were shown running and that was the extent of it,” Sengere said. “There was no chance for anyone to verify exactly what they were running on,” adding that the scientific community “largely just ignored him.”

In the days following the event, Techzim published an article debunking misconceptions about Saith Technologies’ claims, including the electric car.

Techzim reported the “discovery” used simple gel batteries of 220 volts into a higher output of 500,000 watts, making his claim “advanced beyond the law of conservation of energy.”

“We are not sure how this assertion can be dispelled and we hope at some forum scientist will put the claims to test,” Techzim wrote.

The Associated Press and PolitiFact also previously debunked this claim in 2018.

Source: US Today