Kenyan-Swedish technology company has launched the first all-electric bus in Kenya.
This is the first major step in the company’s vision to provide a locally designed and developed electric bus that can be mass-produced for the pan-African market by the end of 2023. This is also a step towards realizing Opibus’ goal of electrifying Africa’s public transport system, deploying products tailored for the local use case.
Opibus develops, designs, and manufactures electric vehicles tailored to help transition the African continent toward a future of more sustainable transportation.
The company is currently running a pilot for the coach in Kenya in preparation for its commercial release mid this year and across Africa by the end of 2023.
“This first year, we will be testing 10 buses commercially in Nairobi to ensure that the product fits and is optimized for the usage patterns. Once we get this valuable feedback, we will make the required changes and get all our production partners lined up to scale the roll out as rapidly as possible,” Opibus chief strategy and marketing officer Albin Wilson said.
“The bus is designed and developed in-house with local engineering talent, while at the same time utilizing local manufacturing partners”. said the company on Wednesday.
While Opibus previously converted existing transit buses to electrified powertrains, this will be the first bus to sit upon the company’s proprietary, modular EV platform. According to Opibus, the platform is its “secret sauce” that enables it to manufacture a bus that provides both the reliability and durability Africa requires, but at a suitable price point.
“Our strategy is to design and develop a bus that is viable in price, durable and accessible for this region…We are building a product that allows for a rapid scale up, that can leverage global and local manufacturers. Meaning our design is easily implemented across the African continent, as it is a product tailored for the use case, and very cost effective,” said Wilson.
The buses will be paired with a business model that enables operators to save from day one. Along with the bus deployment, several charging points will be installed from Opibus’ already existing range of products. These chargers will be a mix of AC (slow) and DC (fast) chargers. Using the fast charger, the electric bus will be fully charged within an hour, enabling seamless operations.
Opibus was founded in 2017 as a research project at one of Sweden’s top technical universities with a mission to implement electric mobility in emerging markets.
This includes EV conversions of mining SUVs, energy storage, and ground-up builds of both electric motorcycles and passenger buses some of the first to be manufactured in Africa.