Founded in 2017, Opibus is the leading provider of electric vehicles designed and manufactured locally. Its vision is to create reliable and cost effective products designed for the pan-African mass market.
The company raised US$7.5 million in equity and grant funding late last year to help it scale its operations, and it has now rolled out its first electric bus in Kenya as the first major step in its plan to provide a locally designed and developed electric bus that can be mass-produced for the pan-African market by the end of 2023.
The bus is designed and developed in-house with local engineering talent and utilising local manufacturing partners. Key to the technology is the Opibus proprietary electric vehicle platform, which is modular and can be the foundation for several types of vehicles. This enables the creation of a bus that is suitable for the African use case, in its reliability, durability and price point. It also means local and global contract manufactures can be used to create a globally competitive product, with a rapid scale-up.
Opibus said the bus will be significantly lower cost than importing fully-built electric buses, and also has superior performance compared to its diesel counterpart. With the installation of a powerful motor, the bus has maximum torque which improves performance while enabling the driver to accelerate more responsively. Additionally, since the electric bus does not have a combustion engine or manual gearboxes, no oil, filters, or gaskets need to be changed, translating to an 80 per cent reduction in maintenance expenses compared to a diesel bus.
This first electric bus is set to be launched commercially by the middle of 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 optimised market fit. It feels great to be the first movers in this very exciting space,” said Dennis Wakaba, project coordinator for public transport at Opibus.
The deployment of the buses will initially be in peri-urban areas around Nairobi Metropolitan. Along with the bus deployment, several charging points will be installed from Opibus’ 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.