First Electric Matatu Hits The Road

Written By Gerald Gekara ||

Opibus, a company converting diesel engines to electric, has introduced the first all-electric bus in Kenya as well as the first African-designed electric bus ever.

The 41 seater bus was spotted crisscrossing Nairobi’s Industrial Area with engineers and technicians on board.

The bus is capable of covering 120 km on a single charge and would be ideal to city matatus.

This bus will be significantly lower cost than importing fully built electric buses. However, it 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, there are no oil/filters/gaskets that need to be changed.

This translates to an 80% reduction in maintenance expenses, compared to a diesel bus.

Taking into account the electricity charges which are also significantly lower than the ever-increasing diesel price, the total operating expenses are lowered by 50% and will revolutionize the public transport sector in Africa. 

Opibus said in a statement that its goal is to reduce emissions and promote clean energy through electrifying the country’s public transport.

“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” – Dennis Wakaba, Project coordinator – Public Transport 

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The deployment of the buses will initially be in peri-urban areas around Nairobi Metropolitan, 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.