roam launches electric bus & e-motorbike deal in kenya

The Swedish-Kenyan technology company Roam (formerly Opibus) has just launched an all-electric public transport bus called Roam Rapid specifically designed to meet the challenges of public transport in Africa. The manufacturer has also just signed an agreement to supply electric motorbikes with an African financing platform called M-Kopa.

The Roam Rapid will initially be used in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Roam says the Roam Rapid electric bus offers space for up to 90 passengers and is equipped with a 384-kWh battery pack that should enable a range of 360 kilometres. The bus has a top speed of 70 km/h, and the battery can be fully charged in less than two hours via DC charging ports.

According to the Kenyan-Swedish electric vehicle manufacturer, the Roam Rapid is the first bus in Kenya designed for mass transport. The company points out that this electric bus, therefore, paves the way for the next-generation public transport systems not only in Kenya but also elsewhere in Africa.

The buses will be assembled locally in collaboration with local partners while some of the manufacturing processes will be carried out elsewhere in the region. The company says that a strong local presence will facilitate better customer service and create many jobs.

“The solution Roam brings to the Kenyan market enables us to move people safely, comfortably and timely in both a sustainable and affordable way,” explained Dennis Wakaba, Project Coordinator, Roam. He pointed out that the bus is designed not only to increase comforts and lower cost, “but more importantly focuses on the well-being of the population through reduced noise pollution and eliminating local emissions, improving air quality for the cities across Africa,” he added.

Not just buses but also electric motorbikes

Roam has also signed a large-scale supply agreement with African financing platform M-Kopa for its electric motorbikes. The fintech company provides loans and digital financial services to unbanked consumers in Africa. The supply agreement with Roam will allow the company to sell electric motorbikes on credit, lowering customers’ barriers to entry through affordable payment plans. Deliveries of the electric motorbikes for distribution through M-Kopa are scheduled for the end of 2022.

Mikael Gånge, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Roam, said, “This agreement is an incredible trigger for electric motorcycle adoption in emerging markets and validates our vision of releasing a locally designed product that exceeds the experience of traditional fossil fuel motorcycles for a similar price.” When explaining why the focus was put on electric motorbikes, he explained, “We want to provide a compelling environmental and economical solution for markets that haven’t been part of the electric vehicle transition yet.”

With about 200,000 motorbikes registered on Kenyan roads each year, the boda boda industry, as it is called, is big business for small-income earners. Motorbikes are used for taxi services and logistics, as well as being the main form of transport for many people. Roam by no means the only company providing electric motorbikes in Kenya, these include Fika Mobility and Alternet Systems (ALYI) with ReVolt motorcycles.

Gånge adds, “We believe the motorcycle taxi industry is one of the most impactful areas to start, given the growing market size and importance for low-income earners not only in Africa but globally. Our partnership with M-KOPA will drive us both towards our shared vision of cleaner mobility.”

roammotors.com (Roam Rapid), roammotors.com (M-Kopa)

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