Image from AVA

Kenya’s Producing Its First Electric Buses — 1,000 Buses Over 3 Years

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The transition to electric mobility is happening faster than previously  thought. Electric buses provide a key pathway to increasing access to more sustainable transport for the majority, especially in developing countries. Electric buses coupled with the right business models can usher a new era in Africa’s mass transit sector and also catalyze the manufacturing sector, helping to create much needed employment opportunities. With the right business model, this can happen very quickly.

Kenya’s BasiGo is a perfect example of what can happen quickly with the right models and commitment. Established in May 2021, BasiGo has moved quickly from concept to pilots to validate its business model to sealing major partnerships with several banks in Kenya, and has now announced a partnership with Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) in Mombasa to assemble the first 1,000 electric buses in Mombasa, Kenya, over the next 3 years. This new partnership will build on the initial agreement where in January 2023, AVA successfully completed the final assembly of fifteen 25-seater electric buses, which were shipped in partially assembled by BasiGo, and are now set to start operations with Nairobi matatu operators in the coming months.

BasiGo and AVA aim to manufacture over 1,000 electric buses in the next 3 years, creating over 300 new manufacturing jobs and an additional 300 jobs in the ecosystem of charging, maintenance, and financing required to support electric buses in operation. Since launching in March 2022, BasiGo’s electric buses have driven over 141,000 kilometers and carried over 185,000 passengers as part of fleet operations with two Nairobi bus operators, East Shuttle and Citi Hoppa.

BasiGo makes electric buses affordable to operators through an innovative financing model called “Pay-As-You-Drive” which makes the upfront cost of its electric bus competitive with diesel buses. Here is a summary of  BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive:

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

AVA is East Africa’s leading multi-brand vehicle assembler with a rich automotive engineering heritage since 1975. Based in Mombasa, Kenya, the company is one of the most diverse vehicle assembly plants in the world offering vehicle body building, boat building, supply chain solutions, and specialty vehicle transformation.

Speaking about the partnership, BasiGo CEO Jit Bhattacharya said, “BasiGo is committed to delivering electric buses that are 100% assembled in Kenya. We are elated to be partnering with AVA, the country’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles who have had expertise for many years in assembly in the country. We are confident that this partnership will put Kenya on the map as a leader in the manufacturing of modern electric vehicles.”

Moses Nderitu, Chief Revenue Officer of BasiGo, added, “With AVA’s decades of experience and certified production processes, we will be delivering high-quality electric buses to PSV operators in the region. Together, BasiGo and AVA are making Kenya a leader in the manufacturing of state-of-the-art electric vehicles, a segment that is destined to grow rapidly in the years to come.”

BasiGo’s innovative Pay-As-You-Drive model lowers the barriers to entry for bus operators to get brand new electric buses and it also lowers their operations and maintenance costs. This is a beautiful model that I want to see scaled up and adopted in more African countries soon. BasiGo is transforming the electric mobility sector and I am looking forward to seeing it grow its operations even further in line with its vision to bring the future of clean, electric public transport to sub-Saharan Africa.

Image from AVA

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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