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Images courtesy of Kiri EV

Clean Transport

Kiri EV Assembles First Batch Of Electric Cargo 3-Wheelers For Last Mile Deliveries In Refugee Camp

Kiri EV is an electric vehicle startup based in Nairobi, Kenya, founded by Christopher Mukiri Maara. The name Kiri was inspired by his middle name Mukiri, which means “The Quiet One,” which is pretty cool since electric vehicles are quite silent. Kiri EV’s business focuses on assembling and selling electric 2- and 3-wheelers, public and private charging and swap stations, as well as after-sales support with the objective of providing holistic end-to-end services that ensure customers get the full potential of their electric vehicles.

Kiri has been quite active in the Kenyan 2-wheeler space. Kiri EV has now completed the assembly of the first batch of electric cargo tuk tuks. The company imported them as knocked-down kits from China and assembled them in Nairobi. The electric cargo tuk tuks come in two variants, one with a 1,500 W motor and the other with a 3,000 W motor. The tuk tuks weigh 133 kg excluding the battery. The maximum load is 530 kg. They have a  top speed limited to 50km/h, and their range is 70km. Charging the 8.64 kWh battery takes approximately 6 hrs. Kiri EV has used 72v30ah x 4 lithium packs for the tuk tuk.

The cargo tuk tuks were assembled for Tryke. Tryke will use the cargo tuk tuks for last mile deliveries in the Kakuma refugee camp and will be combined with solar powered charging and battery swapping points. This is a perfect application for electric cargo tuk tuks. The Tryke is looking to pilot these for the next 6-8 months. Kiri EV will use this period to get important insights and feedback on the performance of the cargo 3-wheelers before they scale these further with a main target of rural areas and last mile delivery applications for urban areas. In the refugee camp, the electric cargo tuk tuks will be used for applications such as delivering water, foodstuff, cooking gas cylinders, and general last mile transport from shop to customer.

Three-wheelers have a key role to play in the rural, peri-urban and urban landscape in a lot of African countries. Internal combustion engine 3-wheelers are already one of the key modes of transportation in places like Mombasa and the Kenyan Coastal region. There is a viable addressable market for replacing this fleet with electric tuk tuks that are designed for local conditions and applications.

Pilot programs such as this one by Kiri EV and Tryke are the perfect platforms to get real usage data and also to get people in the 3-wheeler sector acquainted with electric 3-wheelers. These electric 3-wheelers, coupled with solar powered charging and battery swap stations, will have a transformational effect in rural and peri-urban areas. These areas are still severely underserved when it comes to transport services. These tuk tuks enable people in these remote areas to maneuver comfortably in environments where larger vehicles such as cars and trucks would not be quite applicable due to the lack of adequate road infrastructure. These areas are also far from petrol stations; therefore, it would be a hassle to get fuel to ICE vehicles. Distributed solar systems such as rural mini grids which are now coming up in these areas more than before will also help increase the number of areas in these off-grid environments where electric tuk tuks can be integrated.

Images courtesy of Kiri EV

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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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