Roam, an electric vehicle (EV) startup headquartered in Kenya, has introduced a fresh shuttle bus model called “Move.” This development aligns with Kenya’s ongoing efforts to promote the use of electric vehicles in the region.
As a result of Kenya’s accelerated adoption of electric vehicles, against the backdrop of skyrocketing fuel prices and calls for a switch to sustainable transport options, Roam (formerly Opibus) now plans to ramp up its production of the Move bus as well as expand its charging infrastructure, as it anticipates a growth in demand for electric buses as a result of Kenya’s acceleration of electric vehicle adoption.
Roam reported that it has received orders for a total of 50 buses, which it will begin to deliver beginning in February of the following year. The local assembly of the 42-seater buses, which have a range of 200 kilometres, employ parts purchased from China, and have an estimated price tag of $135,000. The capacity of the bus can easily be increased to accommodate 52 passengers. When operating at full manufacturing capacity, it anticipates cranking out forty units each and every month.
Roam, which designs and constructs its own buses, claims that the company complies with local regulations while building them, which includes having a high ground clearance. Dennis Wakaba, Roam’s nation sales officer, told TechCrunch that ‘building the body locally also increases our design offering; we can move the door, construct more boot space, accommodate chosen window fittings, or add air conditioning, etc’. ‘Building the body locally also allows us to move the door, build more boot space, accommodate preferred window fittings, or add air conditioning’, he said.
The introduction of Roam Move follows the news that the company intends to begin manufacturing electric buses to supplement its motorcycle manufacturing operations. It also follows the debut of Roam Rapid in July, which was designed to tap into Kenya’s planned (now stalled) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. However, the BRT project has been put on hold. Its primary rival, BasiGo, already operates tens of electric buses on major thoroughfares in the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi.
Gardler, Filip Lovstrom, and Mikael Gnge established Roam in 2017. Initially specialising in automobile modifications, the company later shifted its focus to the construction of electric vehicles.
Roam has received funding from a Silicon Valley fund. One Ventures, Factor [e] Ventures, and Ambo Ventures, a pan-African venture capital firm, all have investors.
The launch of the Move bus comes after Kenya made further efforts to promote the usage of electric vehicles (EVs), including exempting imported and locally produced motorcycles from having to pay excise duty and rating the supply of electric buses and bicycles as exempt from rating under the present finance laws. Additionally, the nation has its own unique power-charging tariffs.
Just a week ago, Kenya’s energy authority released the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging and Battery Swapping Infrastructure Guidelines 2023. These guidelines were produced in order to, among other things, expedite the construction of public charging stations, which continue to be a significant barrier to adoption.
While Kenya is laying the groundwork for the transition away from fossil fuel vehicles, the overall take-up of electric mobility in Africa is still sluggish when compared to that in the developed world. This is due to a number of challenges, including weak electricity grids, insufficient charging infrastructure, and high EV acquisition costs.