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Uber Kenya, Opibus in electric motorcycles plan for riders

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Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o tries his hands on an electric motorcycle during a flag-off exercise at City Hall in Kisumu on May 25, 2021. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NMG

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Summary

  • The two firms will provide 3,000 electric motorcycles next year at a selling price of Sh158,200 ($1,400) each, with financing also available for riders looking to buy them on credit.
  • They have already completed a pilot study to gauge the demand and viability of the plan ahead of rollout.
  • The new electric motorcycle plan is part of Uber’s strategy to go fully electric and become a zero-emission platform by 2040.

Uber Kenya has partnered with electric vehicle company Opibus to provide electric motorcycles for riders on its app, as it looks to reduce the environmental impact of its fleet.

The two firms will provide 3,000 electric motorcycles next year at a selling price of Sh158,200 ($1,400) each, with financing also available for riders looking to buy them on credit.

They have already completed a pilot study to gauge the demand and viability of the plan ahead of rollout.

“We are seeing a huge demand for locally designed electric motorcycles in Africa, and by working with Uber we have now been able to prove the feasibility for large-scale deployment. Next year we are scaling up our production to meet the market demand, both in Kenya and in the region,” said Mikael Gånge, the co-founder of Opibus.

The new electric motorcycle plan is part of Uber’s strategy to go fully electric and become a zero-emission platform by 2040.

It also comes amid a rise in global oil prices, which has seen diesel and petrol jump by 14 and 21 percent respectively this year, reducing riders’ revenues.

The shift to electric cars and motorcycles is however still low in the country despite the benefits to the environment and sufficient electricity supply.

Buyers have cited the high cost of purchase of electric vehicles partly due to high import taxes, insufficient technical support capacity and lack of charging infrastructure.

Uber and Opibus plan to introduce commercial charging stations that will be utilised in public points such as office complexes, motorways and at publicly accessible parking areas and malls, where drivers will pay to charge vehicles or motorcycles.

Companies such as Kenya Power and KenGen have also revealed plans to build countrywide electric charging points, helping push further lowering of import taxes for non-fuel-driven cars.

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