BYD & Ampersand To Collaborate On Electric Motorcycles In Africa

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Ampersand will purchase BYD’s high-tech battery cells to build around 40,000 electric motorcycles by the end of 2026, with the long-term goal of electrifying a large portion of Africa’s 30 million commercial motorcycles.

In an exciting development toward electricity in one of the most prominent sectors in the African transport landscape, one of the world’s largest electric vehicle and battery manufacturing firms, BYD, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ampersand to collaborate in the electric motorcycle sector. Ampersand is one of Africa’s leading EV energy tech company, cutting carbon emissions & driving clean economic prosperity by making its EV energy technology and infrastructure accessible to the mass market. BYD  is well known for its electric vehicles, from small hatchbacks to large double-decker buses, as well as its revolutionary “Blade” battery.

This ground-breaking development will see electric motorbike development and deployment in Africa get a significant boost as global high-tech company BYD and Africa’s leading EV energy tech company Ampersand collaborate on the decarbonisation of Africa’s commercial motorbike transport system. As its primary supplier, Ampersand will purchase BYD’s high-tech battery cells to build around 40,000 electric motorcycles by the end of 2026, with the long-term goal of electrifying a large portion of Africa’s 30 million commercial motorbikes. BYD’s cutting edge lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cells have a long lifespan, an excellent safety record, and are affordable for everyday users, making them ideal for mass-market electrification.

Electric motorcycle production line in Ampersand factory in Kigali.

Motorcycles are a really big deal in a lot of African countries, with most of them deployed as taxis. With almost 99% of them still being internal combustion engine motorcycles, there is a huge opportunity and a large addressable market for electrification. The move towards electric vehicles in Africa, especially in this electric motorcycle sector, has mainly been driven from the private sector by small startup companies. Most of the developments have been concentrated along what is now known as the “boda belt” of countries on the African map, where motorcycle taxis are prominent. This belt stretches from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. There is also significant activity in North African countries such as Morocco, where smaller scooters are used mainly for personal transportation, unlike in East Africa and West Africa, where most of the activity is for commercial transport purposes.

Alp Tilev, Ampersand Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer, with Ampersand and BYD teams at BYD factory.

At the same time as decarbonising transport, electric two-wheelers clean up the air and save drivers on average of 45% a year on fuel and maintenance, improving lives and livelihoods. They also drive entrepreneurship and social mobility. Ampersand is one of the leading firms in Africa’s electric motorcycle ecosystem. Ampersand says its current fleet of 3,000 zero-emission electric motorcycles cost less to run, deliver life-changing savings for its customers, clean up air quality, and improve people’s health. The company is further scaling its climate-led innovation and customer-centric services to more businesses and markets. Ampersand is helping to reshape how Africa moves!

The partnership with BYD will enable Ampersand to rapidly scale its electric fleet and its charging infrastructure, which is already the largest in Rwanda and Kenya. This continued scaling will allow Ampersand to meet increasing demand for commercial motorcycles across Africa as its cities expand and riders increase, providing a sustainable solution to support the continent’s economic growth.

Josh Whale, CEO of Ampersand, said: “This partnership marks a major milestone for Ampersand as we continue to lead the charge in providing sustainable, cost effective, mass-market EV solutions. BYD’s world-leading battery cells and manufacturing scale, combined with Ampersand’s deep customer insight and technical product knowledge, will help fast track the electrification of Africa’s commercial motorcycles. Switching the millions of taxi and delivery two-wheelers to EV energy tech represents one of the world’s best value-for-money decarbonisation opportunities. At the same time, this transformation will save millions of hardworking motorcycle riders six hundred dollars each a year, driving clean economic prosperity.”

Sihai Zhang of BYD Company said: “Ampersand’s electric motorbike technology and charging network, along with its excellent customer understanding, make the company stand out to BYD as the clear pioneer in the electrification of Africa’s transport system. Electrifying the intensively used commercial motorcycles found across Africa is a logical first step to decarbonising a very large potential market of motorcycles across the Global South.”

We have previously seen reports of BYD collaborating with firms such as Singapore’s Scorpio Electric. Leveraging BYD’s battery expertise amongst other areas makes a lot of sense for electric motorcycle firms. It’s great to see that BYD’s battery technology will also be employed in electric motorcycles on the African continent through Ampersand. This is a big moment for the nascent electric motorcycle sector. BYD is the largest producer of plug-in electric vehicles and is ramping up production in a big way. It could soon be the largest producer of battery electric vehicles globally. Partnering with such a big global firm will allow Ampersand to really scale production of its electric motorcycles as well as expand its network of battery swapping centres as needed without any battery supply constraints — as well as provide its customers with world-leading battery technology.

Images courtesy of Ampersand

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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.

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