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The first all-electric, African-designed bus is coming to the streets of Nairobi.
Opibus, a Swedish-Kenyan technology company, has designed, developed, and will deploy the new bus in the second half of this year in and around the Kenyan capital.
However, the company is also looking beyond simply running the buses. By the end of 2023, Opibus is hoping to start mass-producing the bus for the pan-African market as it looks to electrify the continent’s public transport system.
The bus has been designed and developed in-house with local engineering talent and will utilise local manufacturing partners when it goes into production.
“This first electric bus is set to be launched commercially mid this year. Following this, the platform will be tested at scale in commercial deployment of 10 buses during the second half of 2022. In doing so, we ensure that we gather valuable feedback to continue the development of the product for an optimized market fit. It feels great to be the first movers in this very exciting space,” says Dennis Wakaba, Project Coordinator for Public Transport at Opibus.
Central to the new bus is the company’s modular platform which can serve as the foundation for several types of vehicles. This, according to Opibus, makes it buses ideal for African roads and cities unlike other electric buses from European, Asian, and North American manufacturers.
The bus’ design prioritises reliability, durability, and affordability, while local and global contract manufacturers can help the company scale up its production efforts quickly.
Opibus is also promising that its electric buses will be significantly cheaper than importing fully built electric buses whilst also promising superior performance compared to traditional diesel counterparts. Maintenance expenses are reduced by up to 80%, according to Opibus, while the shift to electricity from diesel will lead to operating costs being halved.
The first buses will be run in peri-urban areas around the Kenyan capital and Opibus will also install “several” AC and DC charging points. The faster DC chargers will allow the bus to be fully charged within an hour.