Battery swap boosts electric motorcycle riding in Kenya

  • Electric motorcycle startups are stepping into Kenya
  • Say battery swapping saves drivers time and money
  • Planning to expand the model to Tanzania and Uganda

NAIROBI, Dec 26 (Reuters) – In recent months, clusters of sturdy and brightly colored battery swap stations have popped up around Kenya’s capital Nairobi, allowing electric motorcyclists to swap their battery weak against a fully charged battery.

It’s a sign of an electric motorbike revolution starting to unfold in Kenya where combustion engine motorbikes are a cheaper and faster way to get around than cars, but environmental experts say they are 10 times more polluting.

East Africa’s largest economy is betting on electric motorcycles, its renewables-intensive power supply and its position as a tech and startup hub to lead the region’s shift to electric mobility at zero emissions.

The battery swap system not only saves time – essential for more than a million motorcyclists in Kenya, most of whom use the bikes for commercial purposes – but also saves money for buyers , as many sellers follow a pattern in which they retain ownership of the battery, the most expensive motorcycle. part.

“It doesn’t make much economic and business sense for them to acquire a battery…which would almost double the cost of the bike,” said Steve Juma, co-founder of e-bike company Ecobodaa.

Ecobodaa currently has 50 test electric motorcycles on the road and expects to have 1,000 by the end of 2023 that it sells for around $1,500 each – about the same price as motor bikes. combustion thanks to the exclusion of the battery from the cost.

After the initial purchase, the electric motorcycle – designed to be tough enough to traverse rocky roads – is cheaper to operate than gas-guzzling motorcycles.

“With the normal bike, I will use fuel worth around 700-800 Kenyan shillings ($5.70-$6.51) every day, but with this bike, when I swap a battery, I ‘get a 300 shilling battery,’ said 28-year-old Kevin Macharia. which transports goods and passengers around Nairobi.

EXPANSION PROJECTS

Ecobodaa is just one of several Nairobi-based electric motorcycle startups working to prove themselves in Kenya before eventually expanding into East Africa.

Kenya’s steady power supply, which is about 95% renewable through hydropower and has an extensive grid, has been a major underpinning to the sector’s growth, said Jo Hurst-Croft, Founder of ARC Ride, another Nairobi-based electric motorcycle startup.

The country’s electric utility estimates it produces enough to charge two million electric motorbikes a day: Electricity access in the country is over 75%, according to the World Bank, and even higher in Nairobi.

Uganda and Tanzania also have robust, renewable energy-rich grids that could support electric mobility, Hurst-Croft said.

“We are installing over 200 exchange stations in Nairobi and expanding to Dar es Salaam and Kampala,” Hurst-Croft said.

($1 = 122.9000 Kenyan shillings)

Reporting by Ayenat Mersie; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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