Swedish-Kenyan EV start-up Opibus has introduced the first locally designed and assembled all-electric mass transit bus in Kenya.
The firm, which raised $7.5 million in pre-series A funding last year, is now conducting a pilot test before commercial deployment of 10 buses during the second half of 2022 in Kenya and the pan-African market by the end of 2023.
“This first electric bus is set to be launched commercially mid this year. Following this, the platform will be tested at scale in commercial deployment of 10 buses during the second half of 2022. In doing so, we ensure that we gather valuable feedback to continue the development of the product for an optimized market fit. It feels great to be the first movers in this very exciting space” Dennis Wakaba, Opibus Project coordinator Public Transport said.
Opibus said in a statement the deployment of the buses will initially be in peri-urban areas around Nairobi Metropolitan. Along with the bus deployment, the company also plans to install several charging points for the EV buses in the operating area.
Compared to its diesel counterpart, the firm says the new electric bus is silent, produces zero emissions, reduces 80% of the maintenance cost and lowers overall operational costs by 50%. Brand new Opibus electric buses will cost $100,000 and $60,000 for conversions.
“Since the electric bus does not have a combustion engine or manual gearboxes, there are no oil/filters/gaskets that need to be changed. This translates to an 80% reduction in maintenance expenses, compared to a diesel bus. Taking into account the electricity charges which are also significantly lower than the ever-increasing diesel price, the total operating expenses are lowered by 50% and will revolutionize the public transport sector in Africa,” it said.
Seen as a largely untapped opportunity, the African market for electric mass transit vehicles continues to attract investment.
Last year, BasiGo, an electric vehicle start-up also launched its operations in Nairobi after raising $1 million in pre-seed funding. BasiGo buses which cover about 250 kilometres daily will come in 25 and 36 seater capacities. On the other hand, Opibus come in a 51-seat capacity with a range of 120 kilometres. BasiGo plans to sell the EV buses at the price of their diesel equivalent.