A lot of intracity passenger bus services in various African cities are run by private players using small- to medium-sized buses ranging from 14- to 36-seat models. Some routes are also serviced by higher capacity buses. Last year, the Kenyan e-mobility company BasiGo introduced the BYD K6 electric minibus, which has seating capacity of around 20 or so passengers and is a good candidate to slot in perfectly into Kenya’s matatu ecosystem, where 14- to 36-seater minibuses play a major role in providing transport services for urban commutes in Kenya.
Following a successful pilot program and an even better commercial rollout where BasiGo supplied almost 20 of these K6 electric buses to several public transport operators in Nairobi, BasiGo has recently announced the introduction of the “E9 Kubwa,” a 36-seater electric bus custom designed for the Kenyan market. Kubwa, which means “big” in Swahili, and in this case has been used (I assume) to indicate to the market that BasiGo now has an additional option of a bigger bus. The E9 Kubwa has a 210kWh battery coupled with a 130kW (250kW peak) electric motor. The addition of this bigger bus follows extensive consultations and feedback from the market as well as BasiGo’s own internal analysis of the market.
The first 2 Kubwa buses have begun pilot testing with existing BasiGo customers Super Metro, OMA Services, Embassava, Citti Hoppa, Metro Trans, and East Shuttle plying the Dandora route. The E9 Kubwa seats 36 passengers with the option of 18 standing passengers. BasiGo has designed the E9 for urban bus operations where buses typically hold 33 to 41 passengers. The bus can be recharged in 2 hours at BasiGo’s DC fast charging depots and can drive up to 400 km per day with a mid-day charge. Like the K6 electric bus introduced by BasiGo last year, the E9 Kubwa features an upgraded passenger experience with leather seats, WiFi, CCTV cameras, and USB phone charging at every seat.
Jit Bhattacharya, BasiGo CEO, said, “We are proud to deliver the E9 Kubwa, an electric bus designed specifically for Nairobi’s PSV sector. This is a state-of-the-art electric bus that is cleaner for Nairobi, safer and more comfortable for passengers, and better value for PSV Operators. Through our Pay-As-You-Drive financing models, we have made this bus accessible to all bus operators in the city. And most importantly, every E9 Kubwa delivered by BasiGo will be manufactured here in Kenya starting later this year.”
Through its Pay-As-You-Drive financing model, BasiGo is offering the E9 Kubwa for a purchase price of Ksh 7.5 million and a mileage-based subscription of Ksh 40 per km for charging and maintenance provided by BasiGo. BasiGo has also announced a new lease option, enabling owners to adopt the electric bus for a much lower upfront cost. Each E9 Kubwa electric bus is expected to help Kenya reduce diesel consumption by 20,000 liters per year while also reducing CO2 emissions by 50 tonnes per year.
Savings of 20,000 liters of diesel per year per bus is a really big deal for a country like Kenya, which imports all of its petrol and diesel. Accelerating the adoption of these electric buses will go a long way in reducing pressure on demand for foreign currency through increased import substitution as more and more buses will start to use energy from locally generated renewable sources such as geothermal, hydro and wind, especially during the off-peak overnight periods, where Kenya has quite a lot of capacity to do so.
BasiGo already has a growing reservation list for the E9 Kubwa from bus operators in Nairobi. Reservations require a refundable deposit of KSh 10,000. Reservations are needed to hold a client’s position in the queue as production units of the E9 Kubwa become available.
Images courtesy of BasiGo
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