Rivian R1T Pickups Create A Big Buzz in Kenya

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Kenya is one of the best places to drive EVs. Kenya’s grid is very green thanks to some awesome geothermal, wind, utility scale solar, and hydropower plants. All of these clean renewables are responsible for about 90% of the electricity generated in Kenya. Kenya’s Driveelectric has shown over a year-long exercise how driving electric in Kenya is so much cheaper than driving ICE. With the transport sector responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions in Kenya, it has become critical for Kenya to accelerate the transition to electric mobility to reduce these emissions.

There has been some slow but steady progress on the EV scene in Kenya and the industry is starting to come alive. Nopea, a ride-hailing startup using only electric vehicles, was one of the first movers and is scaling up. There are several firms that are now developing and assembling various types of electric vehicles in Kenya ranging from electric motorcycles to electric buses. These firms include Roam Motors (formally known as Opibus), Fika Mobility, and Ecobodaa, amongst others.

Iyadi, an early EV adopter in Kenya, took his 35 kWh VW eGolf on a 200 km non-stop trip to Nanyuki from Nairobi to show how comfortable a 200 km trip is in a modern EV. These experiences help raise awareness and are critical in driving adoption. It is always good to see electric vehicles trending on the local scene. In late 2020, there was quite some excitement on social media in Kenya when the first Tesla Model X, which was imported privately by another EV enthusiast, arrived in Nairobi. We can’t wait for Tesla to start looking at seriously getting its cars to Africa. Kenya is one of the markets that we hope would be in any future plans for Africa. This particular Model X generated quite a buzz with Kenyans on Twitter. As always, the engagement on Twitter is intense and a lot of comments came through mostly focusing on:

  1. Where will the owner charge the Tesla when there aren’t many charging stations in Kenya?
  2. How will they survive the power outages?
  3. Where will they service it when there aren’t any Tesla Service Centers?

All of this engagement and publicity is good as its helps raise awareness and gets people in this part of the world talking about EVs. As more and more EVs hit the road in Kenya, most likely through imports of used vehicles from the traditional source markets such as Japan and the United Kingdom, a lot more people will gain some comfort in EVs and their performance in this market. It may also incentivize businesses to accelerate plans to roll out charging stations.

Now this week, Kenya’s social media pages were buzzing again with sightings of Rivian’s R1T in several places around Nairobi. A user with the handle “king hysteria” posted a video of the R1T looking quite at home in Nairobi traffic driving alongside the famous motorcycle taxis (Boda bodas) and minibus taxis (Matatus). Dennis Wakaba posted another video of someone really enjoying the R1T’s impressive acceleration. Rivian’s “battery systems were built to explore, delivering between 260 – 400+ miles of range depending on the battery pack and motor that you select,” according to its website.

Every EV deployed anywhere in the world makes a difference and helps more and more people find out about EVs and hopefully get more people who can afford also get EVs of their own. This is why I am very excited about these 4 R1Ts in Kenya. They could be the first ones on the continent. Rivian’s R1Ts are designed and built with off-road capability in mind, and it would be interesting to know more about what’s in store for the 4 R1Ts that have just arrived in Kenya. When we find out more on this, we will let you know.

All images courtesy of Moses Nderitu

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 754 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai