Swedish-Kenyan startup Opibus’ first electric transit bus enters service as part of regional launch plans by 2023 – TechCrunch

Swedish-Kenyan start-up EV’s first electric bus Opibus hit the roads of Kenya, marking the start of the company’s venture into the public transport industry. Opibus first announced plans to roll out electric public transit buses last year when it raised $7.5 million in a pre-Series A round.

The startup is currently running a pilot project for the commercial launch of electric buses in Kenya later this year, and across Africa by the end of 2023.

Over the past five years, Opibus has been dedicated to future-proofing existing gasoline and diesel vehicles by converting them to electric. Electric vehicles have many advantages, including reduced transportation cost and zero carbon emissions. The startup, founded in 2017 by Filip Gardler, Filip Lövström and Mikael Gånge, has so far converted more than 170 vehicles for different clients, including mining companies and tour operators.

The company is now slowly shifting to building electric vehicles and supporting infrastructure, like public charging stations. The all-new Opibus electric buses will cost $100,000 and $60,000 for conversions (which the startup is using in the pilot program).

“This first year we will commercially test 10 buses in Nairobi to ensure the product is suitable and optimized for the usage patterns. Once we get this valuable feedback, we will make the necessary changes and align all of our production partners to expand the rollout as quickly as possible,” Albin Wilson, director of strategy and marketing for Opibus told TechCrunch. .

Opibus specializes in the manufacture of electric buses and motorcycles. Picture credits: Opibus

Opibus says its vehicles are designed and built locally, giving them a competitive advantage in terms of lower price when they hit the market. In addition, local production means that production can be adapted to the needs of the local market.

“Our strategy is to design and develop a bus that is priced viable, sustainable and accessible for this region… We are building a product that scales quickly, that can leverage global and local manufacturers. This means that our design is easily implemented across the African continent as it is a product fit for the use case and very cost effective,” Wilson said.

The startup is now looking to the rest of Africa through partnerships that will drive the adoption of electric vehicles across the continent.

Uber’s partnership with Opibus, which was announced last month, for example, will see the deployment of up to 3,000 electric motorcycles, made by the startup, across Africa by 2022. are used as taxis and for deliveries to its various markets.

Kenya’s electric vehicle sector is booming and has attracted new players in recent years, including BasiGo, which debuted in Kenya in November last year. BasiGo, which recently imported two electric transit buses for its pilot, plans to sell locally assembled electric buses using parts from Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Automotive. BasiGo buses have a capacity of 25 and 36 seats, with a range of approximately 250 kilometres, while those of Opibus have a capacity of 51 seats and a range of 120 kilometres.

Melvin Z. Madore