Opibus, a Swedish-Kenyan technology company that develops, designs, and manufactures electric vehicles tailored for the African continent, has just secured sub-Saharan Africa’s largest ever fundraise in electromobility. Opibus was founded in 2017 and is leading the transition to sustainable transport in key segments such as mass transit (medium and high capacity intracity buses), electrification of motorcycles, mining vehicles, and game drive vehicles. Opibus is also focusing on commercial vehicles as well as charging and energy solutions.
Opibus was the first company to deliver locally produced electric motorcycles. With nearly 100 employees, (40% are female), Opibus is today the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles in Africa and has one of the largest fleets of electric motorcycles deployed so far. The company is gaining some significant traction with 170 vehicles deployed to date.
All of these vehicles were locally designed and manufactured in East Africa. Over 35% of the components used in its vehicles are sourced locally, contributing to more employment opportunities in associated downstream industries. Opibus’ value proposition is riding on some positive unit economics. Opibus says its consumers can enjoy more than a 60% reduction in running costs by switching to its electric motorcycles and buses, when compared with traditional ICE vehicles. Opibus was also recently featured in the print issue of National Geographic.
Here is an extract from the Opibus press release:
Opibus has announced today that it has raised $7.5 million USD in funding led by Silicon Valley fund At One Ventures, further supported by Factor[e] Ventures and Ambo Ventures managed by former Google and Uber executives. The investment is the largest ever in an electric mobility company in Sub-Saharan Africa and is aimed to scale its operations in electric motorcycle and bus manufacturing. The closed fundraising consists of $5M in equity and $2.5M in additional grants, totalling to $7.5M. The investments will be used to prepare for scale up and mass manufacturing starting 2022. Africa is one of the fastest growing transportation markets globally, with a total market potential of $10 billion by 2030, and is largely untapped.
Opibus already has existing customers across 6 countries in Africa. Its vision is to create reliable and cost effective products designed for the pan-African mass-market. With several vehicles in different categories deployed, Opibus has reduced customer CO₂ emissions by 94% and operational expenditures by more than 60%. The company has a unique approach to both heavy electric vehicles and electric motorcycles. The proprietary powertrain enables existing heavy commercial vehicles such as buses and trucks to be converted to electric – thereby reducing cost, resource use and giving the vehicles a second life. While the motorcycle is fully designed and tailored for the local use case, with a robust frame and dual swappable battery packs providing a perfect product market fit, intended to maximise local content.
“We are proud to be backed by globally recognized investors providing a balance between deep-tech and emerging market expertise. We have together reached a clear strategic and visionary alignment – with the conviction that mass manufacturing of electric mobility solutions in Africa will not only make the products more accessible and affordable, but also lead to one of the largest industrialization and welfare transitions of the region in modern time.” said Filip Gardler, CEO and co-founder of Opibus. “The targets and objectives we’ve set for Opibus might seem bold, however it is a mission that has become more important than ever. We have a responsibility to the coming generations and the earth at whole.”
“Opibus is taking a fundamentals-first approach to delivering a compelling customer value proposition that is tailored for the African market. Their vehicles are half the cost compared to second-hand fossil fuel vehicles, and perform better in the harsh road conditions. We are excited to be supporting them in their growth phase to achieve true impact at scale.” Helen Lin, Principal At One Ventures.
“The African market for electric mass transit vehicles, able to operate in the special conditions of the continent is huge but the competition is so far very limited, so there is great potential for Opibus.” Andrew Reicher, Board Member and investor. “The Opibus team is smart, decent and incredibly hard working so if anyone can realise this potential, it’s them. This is one of the most exciting impact investments I’ve ever made.”
“The electric mobility space in Africa represents a huge opportunity; not only to provide a better service at a lower cost to customers, but also to reduce carbon emissions and avoid deadly exposure to particulate pollution on a local level.” Morgan DeFoort, Managing Partner Factor[e] Ventures. Open Capital Advisors was the exclusive financial advisor and Qap Legal Advisors was the legal advisor to Opibus on this transaction.
It’s really great to see Africa-focused electromobility and tech firms starting to raise significant funding. Demand for electric vehicles is sky high in most developed markets, with customers having to wait several months to receive their vehicles in some cases. These international OEMs may not have an incentive to prioritize the African market. Locally designed and built EVs which are tailored to local conditions will help address local demand and help accelerate adoption in Africa.
All images courtesy of Opibus
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