Electric buses are making a silent revolution in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The problem we are facing right now is that these matatus are stuck in traffic,” he adds. “People are experiencing delays, the service is not always reliable. These are issues that we need to fix.”

Ensuring the transition to clean energy

BasiGo started by importing two 25-seat buses from Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD and launched a pilot scheme in March 2022. Over 135,000 kilometers (84,000 miles) have been covered to date. “The most remarkable thing is that in all this time they had less than two days of technical downtime,” he adds.

Another 15 buses will take to the streets in the coming weeks. These vehicles have been imported as kits and are being built in the coastal city of Mombasa, creating jobs and lowering taxes, Bhattacharya explains.

One of two BasiGo buses that started a road experiment in Kenya's capital in 2022. By the end of 2023, the company plans to put 100 of its electric buses on the road.

Instead of managing its own fleet, BasiGo sells buses directly to private operators in Nairobi under a pay-as-you-go scheme. Bhattacharya says that with this, buyers can purchase a BYD electric bus for the same initial price as a diesel bus of the same size.

As part of the deal, drivers receive free bus maintenance and repairs, as well as free charging. The charging infrastructure, which connects to the national grid, is deployed along busy routes at stations where buses usually stop overnight. (The goal, according to Bhattacharya, is to switch to electric vehicles “without changing behavior” on the part of drivers.)

BasiGo buses have a range of 250 kilometers (155 miles) and recharge in four hours. According to the company’s model, BasiGo retains ownership of the bus battery (“up to 40-50% of the value of the car”), meaning that after eight years or 600,000 kilometers (373,000 miles) the battery is replaced and the old battery is either given second life in a non-automotive application, or redesigned, says Bhattacharya.

The startup says it has received more than 100 bookings so far. The plan is to have 100 buses on Nairobi’s roads by the end of the year and 1,000 buses by the end of 2025.

Turning Electricity into a Competitive Alternative

Roam Rapid bus designed by Roam.  The bus has a range of over 224 miles and can accommodate up to 90 passengers.

Meanwhile, Roam makes plans of his own. The electric vehicle startup formerly known as Opibus, a 2022 Earthshot Prize finalist, has two separate bus models designed for Nairobi.

Roam Rapid can accommodate up to 90 people, has a range of over 360 kilometers (224 miles), and is designed to carry passengers along major corridors and routes such as airport transfers.

The bus has gone through four pilot schemes and is currently being tested on Tika Road, the main highway in the capital. Roam says it plans to have up to 10 Rapid models in private use by the end of the year. He is awaiting the results of a government tender related to the upcoming city’s BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) network, which could result in a contract for up to 100 buses.

Rapid went through several pilot schemes and was submitted to a tender associated with the city's future Bus Rapid Transit network.

“We believe we have developed an attractive, user-friendly and functional product,” says project coordinator Dennis Wakaba, “and starting at $245,000, the Rapid can compete with diesel equivalents of similar quality,” he says.

The Roam Move is a smaller bus designed to compete with the traditional matatu market. Wakaba claims the bus will cost 20 Kenyan shillings ($0.16) per kilometer compared to 50-60 shillings ($0.40-0.48) for the diesel equivalent. Thanks to the financing model, the details of which are yet to be finalized, drivers can recoup the cost of a car in four to five years, he said. The Move is still in the prototype stage, but Roam plans to complete 10 units by October.

For now, charging is only available at Roam’s workshop in the city, although Wakaba says permission has been granted to install public chargers on Thika Road, and Roam plans to set up charging points along routes for recharging throughout the day and a full charge. overnight recharge.

Director of product and strategy Albin Wilson is keen to distinguish between Roam and its competitor.

“The biggest difference is that we develop our products (in-house),” he says, adapting battery size, bus size and other factors to the Kenyan market. “We really work in a different vertical,” Wilson insists.

Roam's new production center.  The company, formerly known as Opibus, makes a range of electric vehicle alternatives, including an electric motorcycle.

Long look

Coast believes that while healthy competition in the private sector will ultimately benefit consumers, the public sector should also get involved. “It is not enough to simply replace vehicles with e-buses. We must simultaneously ensure improvements in infrastructure, operations and regulations,” he says.

“The ideal scheme is when the government invests in corridors, stations and depots, and then the private sector can raise capital to invest in buses,” he adds.

“Nairobi will be a much more efficient city if we have a decent public transport system that offers reliable and fast service,” Coast concludes, with potential economic benefits that could encourage the government to join it.

The first BasiGo buses on the roads of Nairobi.  Both BasiGo and Roam already have ambitions to expand beyond Kenya.

BasiGo and Roam are already targeting outside of Nairobi and Kenya. “We are very excited to bring this model of scalable electrification of the public transport system to other markets,” says Bhattacharya, citing Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia as potential countries for expanding BasiGo. Roam says it is seeking tenders for Roam Rapid in East Africa and plans to roll out Roam Move across the region in late 2024.

Meanwhile, both companies are doing their best to attract urban drivers and passengers to their products. After all, electrification cannot mean the end of matatu. Instead, it could be an update.

“We want to make them available to all Nairobi residents. Rich, poor, it doesn’t matter, says Bhattacharya. ready to return.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *