Opibus, a Swedish-Kenyan technology company that develops, designs, and manufactures electric vehicles tailored for the African continent, has just introduced the first all-electric bus in Kenya.
Opibus designed and developed the electric bus in Kenya. This is the first major step in the company’s vision to provide a locally designed and developed electric bus that can be mass-produced for the pan-African market by the end of 2023. This is also a step towards realizing Opibus’ goal of electrifying Africa’s public transport system, deploying products tailored for the local use case.
The bus is designed and developed in-house with local engineering talent, while at the same time utilizing local manufacturing partners. Opibus was the first company to deliver locally produced electric motorcycles. With nearly 100 employees, of which 40% are female employees, 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 over 170 vehicles deployed to date.
Here is a summary of the specifications of the new electric bus from Opibus:
- Power: 225 kW
- Torque: 706 Nm
- Top speed: 85 km/h
- Battery capacity: 121 kWh (LiFePO4 battery)
- DC charging power: 90 kW (CCS Combo 2)
- Charging time: 1.5 hours
- AC charging power: 20 kW
- Driving range: up to 120 km
- Regenerative braking to battery (customizable)
- Fully electric power steering
- IP67 waterproof rated powertrain
- Liquid cooled motor, controller, & charger
Opibus’ proprietary electric vehicle platform is modular and can be the foundation for several types of 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 manufacturers can be used to create a globally competitive product, with a rapid scale-up.
This bus will significantly lower the cost for operators to switch to electric vehicles compared with importing fully built electric buses. The electric bus will also offer operators a superior operating experience and performance compared to its diesel counterpart. With the installation of a powerful motor, the bus has maximum torque, which improves performance while enabling the driver to accelerate more responsively.
Additionally, since the electric bus does not have a combustion engine or manual gearboxes, there are no oil/filters/gaskets that need to be changed. This translates to an 80% reduction in maintenance expenses, compared to a diesel bus. Energy costs for electric vehicles are also significantly lower than the ever-increasing diesel price, therefore, the total operating expenses are lowered by 50%, and this will revolutionize the public transport sector in Africa.
“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” – Dennis Wakaba, Project coordinator – Public Transport
The deployment of the buses will initially be in peri-urban areas around the Nairobi metropolitan area, paired with a business model that enables operators to save from day one. 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. Opibus recently secured Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest ever fundraise in electromobility. Opibus has also partnered with Uber after a successful pilot in Kenya and aims to deploy up to 3,000 electric motorcycles by the end of 2022.
As the world rushes to decarbonize, it is really good to see all these developments in Kenya and in other countries on the African continent. In Kenya for example, renewables provided 92.3% of Kenya’s electricity generation in 2020. Accelerating the penetration of electric vehicles, especially in mass transit, is the next big opportunity and priority to lower emissions.
All images courtesy of Opibus.
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