There has been a lot of attention on electrifying the motorcycle industry on the African continent. That is because the motorcycle sector in Africa is one of the largest vehicle segments on the continent. There are over 27 million ICE motorbikes registered across Africa, with around 80% of them used in the motorcycle taxi industry. Many operators in this industry face rising costs and dwindling profits due to high operational costs associated with frequent oil changes and maintenance services for internal combustion engine motorbikes, as well as the ever increasing cost of petrol. This has resulted in a lot of attention being given to solutions for the electrification of the motorcycle taxi industry on the continent. There are over fifty startups active in this area East Africa for example. A lot of them are starting to transition from early pilots to commercial rollouts of their products and associated platforms.
One of the best ways for them to scale would be to partner with local firms that have been active in the automotive industry for a long time to leverage their technical skillsets and production capacity and experience. There are quite a number of traditional vehicle assembly firms on the African continent which have been assembling traditional internal combustion engine cars, trucks, lorries, and buses for a long time. There are also a lot of firms that assemble internal combustion engine motorcycles. A lot of these assembly plants are under-utilized and therefore have a lot of capacity to take on additional projects under contract manufacturing arrangements or similar. I have always thought that strategic partnerships between these kinds of firms that already assemble various types of vehicles locally and the new electric mobility startups would be a win-win and help catalyze the scaling up of production of the new electric mobility products.
In an exciting development, Kenyan vehicle manufacturer Mobius Motors has partnered with battery-swapping technology specialist Stima and India’s leading electric motorcycle manufacturer One Electric with the aim of accelerating the deployment of electric motorcycles in Kenya. Through this partnership, Mobius Motors joins the existing partnership of Stima and One Electric by taking on the local assembly of the CKD (completely knocked down) kits of One Electric motorcycles, which will be distributed by Stima in the country. The assembly of One Electric motorcycles in Kenya will drive down the cost of electric motorcycles for the Kenyan moto-taxi (boda boda) market, while generating employment opportunities and enhancing local value creation.
Founded in 2020, Stima is a French-Kenyan startup building a SaaS technology platform for battery-swapping systems to support the deployment of electric 2-wheelers in Africa and emerging markets. Since 2021, Stima has refined its battery-swapping software platform in Nairobi, where it manages networks of battery swap stations. Stima is now licensing its proprietary software suite to empower enterprises in deploying scalable battery-swapping systems for electric 2-wheelers in emerging markets.
Mobius Motors, founded in 2011, is a Kenyan company that builds and assembles vehicles under the Mobius brand. Mobius Motors’ vision is to turn around the market from a pre-dominantly used car market to new locally made or assembled vehicles for the same price or less than an equivalent used imported model. Mobius Motors is also preparing next generation electric vehicles. Formed by Gaurav Uppal and Abhijeet Shah in 2019, One Electric motorcycle aims to become market leader in electric motorcycles for the India and Africa market, in the 100cc up to 180cc segments. They are currently present in and conducting trials in six African countries, India, UAE, and Nepal. With constant R&D in battery, motor, and controller technologies, One Electric is striving to provide the most durable and long lasting powerful electric motorcycles.
This strategic alliance leverages Mobius Motors expertise in local vehicle manufacturing to boost Stima’s deployment in Kenya of One Electric robust, high-performing motorcycles, tailored specifically for the African market. Building on the success of the initial rollout of One Electric motorcycles with Stima battery-swapping systems in Nairobi, this new partnership marks the beginning of the ambitious scale-up phase envisioned by One Electric and Stima.
Following Stima’s official announcement as an assembler of electric motorcycles under the East African Community (EAC) duty remission scheme in July 2023, the inaugural CKD batch of Stima-One Electric motorcycles has been assembled at Mobius Motors’ manufacturing plant, Sameer Africa in Nairobi.
With more than 1.5 million boda-boda riders in Kenya and a national electricity grid supplied with renewable energies by more than 90%, the partnership contributes to the sustainable transformation of the Kenyan transportation sector, fostering local added value and job creation in alignment with the priorities and supportive measures of the Kenyan government. Notably, the partnership will contribute to the nationwide rollout of electric motorcycles, a commitment announced by President Ruto in preparation for Kenya’s hosting of the Africa Climate Week scheduled between September 4th and eighth.
Nicolas Guibert, CEO of Mobius Motors, further says, “Mobius Motors is very excited to start its journey towards electric mobility with Stima and One Electric. We will provide the best of our resources and knowledge to make of their proposition a game changer. Our ambition is to further become a major player of the African sustainable mobility.”
Jason Gras, Co-Founder and CEO of STIMA, adds: “We found in Mobius Motors, the ideal partner to assemble our One Electric motorcycles in Kenya. We are delighted to benefit from their experience of building vehicles designed for the African mass-market combined with their impressive Lean Manufacturing-inspired processes. Our collaboration with One Electric and Mobius offers us a great opportunity to implement our battery swapping management software platform at large commercial scale in East Africa.”
Gaurav Uppal, Co-Founder and CEO of One Electric, mentions: “This partnership with Stima and Mobius is key to ensuring that we scale production smoothly as demand is rising. Furthermore, it will be essential in ensuring timely after sales service, while also contributing to the local economy and job creation. We are excited to position this Partnership as a major milestone in the advancement of E-mobility in East Africa.”
I am really excited about this partnership. These are the kinds of partnerships that will help scale these electric mobility products and I hope to see this kind of model replicated on the rest of the African continent.
Images courtesy of STIMA
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