The past few years have seen electric vehicles turn from a niche novelty to a common sight in leading markets, although third-world nations are far from experiencing this development.
While the share of electric vehicles or hybrids on the road compared to those with internal combustion engines is substantially small, early adoption and access to these vehicles is growing.
For instance, companies such as Tesla shipped more than 1 million electric cars in 2021 alone.
The number might look small, but it marks notable growth as the world sees the sustainability of electric vehicles.
Also, countries such as the UK are planning to phase out ICEs by 2030, which means that the country is serious about adopting electric vehicles, and is likely to meet these goals.
As said, things in developing nations are slow, but that doesn’t mean that these regions are not trying to match up with what the world has to offer in terms of electric vehicle adoption.
A motor firm called Opibus has introduced an electric bus in Kenya, which is reportedly the first African-designed electric bus.
According to the company, this is its first primary step toward its vision of providing locally designed and developed electric buses.
Its vision is to mass-produce such buses for the African market by the end of 2023.
“This is a step towards realizing Opibus goal of electrifying Africa’s public transport system, deploying products tailored for the local use cases,” says Opibus in a statement.
Opibus says that the bus was designed from the ground up by an in-house team. It also teamed up with local manufacturing partners to complete the project.
Opibus says that the electric vehicle technology used in the bus is proprietary.
The platform is modular and can be a foundation of other electric vehicles.
“This enables the creation of a bus that is suitable for the African use case, in its reliability, durability, and price point. This also means local and global contract manufactures can be used to create a globally competitive product, with a rapid scale-up,” adds Opibus.
Since the electric bus does not have a combustion engine or manual gearboxes, there are no oil/filters/gaskets that need to be changed, effectively translating to an 80% reduction in maintenance expenses, compared to a diesel bus according to the company.
The deployment of the buses will initially be in peri-urban areas around Nairobi Metropolitan, paired with a business model that enables operators to save from day one.
10 buses will be deployed by the second half of 2022.
Along with the bus deployment, several charging points will be installed from Opibus’ already existing range of products.
These chargers will be a mix of AC (slow) and DC (fast) chargers, using the fast charger, the electric bus will be fully charged within an hour enabling seamless operations.
“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,” says Dennis Wakaba, Project coordinator – Public Transport.