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From The City To The Savanna: Kenya’s Cars Slowly Going Electric


Opibus, a startup company in Kenya is replacing vehicle’s gasoline engines with electric ones.

They take out the fuel system motor and replace it with an electric one, as well as a battery pack and electronics.

They avoid the unnecessary construction of a new chassis by using cars that have already been manufactured.

“Fuel is literally the most expensive commodity in this country right now. It keeps fluctuating and it’s just a pain to any car owner or any motorbike owner. So, our vehicles are electric, which means you save on fuel,” says Opibus mechanic Lucy Mugala.


The company has a production line capable of transforming a diesel engined Toyota Landcruiser into a totally electric vehicle.

They’re also in the final stages of a set of electric motorbikes.

It comes as Kenya’s government sets the target of five percent of all registered vehicles to be electric by 2025.

Enthusiastic taxi companies have seized on the opportunity to cut costs and maximize profits.

Taxi driver Winnie Wekesa says she opted for an electric vehicle to save on the ever-increasing cost of fuel.

“I could make about 3,000 Kenyan shillings, out of which 80 percent of the money could go into car maintenance and fuel. But with this electric vehicle, I am actually enjoying it. I make more money,” she says.

Wekesa, who works for Finnish electric taxi firm Nopea Ride, provides her services throughout Nairobi city.

“With these vehicles, they do not emit fumes, and that way we will be protecting the environment,” she says.

Demand for electric vehicles looks set to climb, as consumers look for ways to save money at the pump.

According to a report by Navigant Research, three percent of new vehicle sales are electric and that’s expected to grow to nearly seven percent in 2021 and hit 37 million electric vehicles globally by 2025.

Safari vehicles have also turned electric at Kenya’s Maasai Mara national park.

Loic Amado, manager at the Emboo River camp, says it enhances tourists’ experiences.

“With an electric car, you can come much closer to an animal. There is no sound, there is no pollution, there is no bad smell because of the fumes that come out of a diesel car, for example, and you don’t startle the animals. You don’t have to turn off and turn on the engine as is the case with a diesel vehicle,” he says.

“So, it’s a much richer experience for clients because now, you’re not imposing yourself on nature, you are immersed and part of nature.”


Written by PH

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