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Clean Transport

BYD K6 Minibuses Being Piloted In Kenya’s Matatu Industry

Small 14- to 35-seater minibus taxis, known as matatus, play a major role in providing transport services for urban commutes in Kenya. Estimates put Kenya’s minibus and bus fleet at just over 100,000 vehicles. Matatu is Swahili for the number three. It is believed the name stuck from the 1970s when the fare was 3p.

With emissions from the transport sector accounting for a huge chunk of the pollution in large cities such as Nairobi, the adoption of electric buses is bound to have a significant impact in reducing emission levels. The electric BYD K6 minibus, which has seating capacity of around 20 or so passengers, is a candidate to slot in perfectly into this ecosystem.

Minibus operators in Nairobi say their daily operations are generally around 200 km per day. The BYD K6 with a range of about 250 miles in city driving could potentially meet their needs throughout the day and then be charged overnight at the depot, addressing one of the major barriers to adoption, which is the limited charging infrastructure at the moment. Another major barrier and burning issue the higher upfront purchase prices of electric buses as compared to similar diesel buses.

BYD K6 electric buses are now being piloted in Kenya on some of Nairobi’s famous routes to show that there is a viable business case for electric minibuses. BasiGo, a Kenyan early-stage electric mobility startup with a mission to create the future of clean, fully electric bus transportation in Africa, wants to accelerate the adoption of electric buses by addressing those two main barriers. Its innovative Pay-as-You-Drive program allows owners to purchase the K6 electric bus without having to pay for the expensive battery technology. This makes the upfront cost similar to a traditional diesel bus, according to their website.

BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive:

  1. A single daily subscription fee charged per kilometer driven
  2. Billed and paid directly between the operator and BasiGo.
  3. Includes nightly charging of the battery.
  4. Includes all standard service and maintenance for the bus
  5. Free battery replacement in the event of any battery issue.
  6. Includes dedicated customer care, roadside assistance, free software upgrades, and more.

Operators can buy the K6 bus for about KSh 5 million ($46,000) and then pay KSh20 per km on the pay-as-you-drive model for battery and associated services ($0.18).

The BYD K6 motor has a maximum power of 180kW and a maximum torque of 1500Nm. Its range of over 200 km should appeal to operators in this sector.

Kenya’s grid is already very clean, with a whopping 92.3% of the locally generated electricity coming from renewables A lot of this capacity is available during the night. Overnight charging of electric vehicles will boost demand and improve revenues for the utility companies. Accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles in key sectors such as the commuter bus sector will go a long way in reducing emissions in one of the major areas contributing to CO2 emissions in Kenya.

Featured image: Wahsaw, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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