Kenyan EV Startup, Roam, Unveils New Shuttle Bus Model Amid Push for Electric Vehicle Adoption

Kenyan electric vehicle (EV) startup, Roam, has recently unveiled its latest shuttle bus model called Move. As the country ramps up efforts to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, Roam plans to increase production of the Move bus and expand its charging infrastructure. Kenya’s push for EV adoption comes in response to rising fuel prices and calls for sustainable transportation options.

Roam intends to deliver 50 Move buses by February 2023, with a goal of manufacturing 40 units per month at full production capacity. These 42-seater buses have a range of 200 kilometers and are assembled locally using parts sourced from China. The cost of each bus is set at $135,000, and there is an option to build a version that can accommodate 52 passengers.

One of Roam’s key advantages is its ability to design buses that meet local requirements, including high ground clearance. By building the buses locally, Roam can also customize elements such as door placement, boot space, window fittings, and air conditioning. According to Dennis Wakaba, Roam’s country sales executive, this enhances their design offering.

The launch of the Roam Move bus follows the company’s plans to expand its EV product line beyond motorcycles. Roam previously introduced the Rapid model in July, which was designed for Kenya’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. However, the BRT project has faced delays, while Roam’s competitor, BasiGo, already operates tens of EV buses on major routes in Nairobi, the capital city.

Roam was founded in 2017 and initially specialized in auto conversions before transitioning to EV production. The company’s expertise in electric power trains allows for flexibility in bringing various products to the market. Roam is supported by investors such as At One Ventures, Factor[e] Ventures, and Ambo Ventures.

Kenya has shown commitment to EV adoption by facilitating the supply of electric buses and bicycles through zero ratings and exempting imported and locally assembled motorcycles from excise duty. The country has also implemented special power tariffs for charging EVs. To further facilitate the transition to electric mobility, Kenya’s energy authority published the Electric Vehicle Charging and Battery Swapping Infrastructure Guidelines 2023, aiming to expedite the establishment of public charging stations, which is a significant barrier to adoption.

Although Kenya is moving towards a fossil fuel vehicle transition, electric mobility uptake in Africa as a whole remains slower compared to developed countries due to challenges such as weak electricity grids, limited charging infrastructure, and high acquisition costs for EVs.

Sources:
– TechCrunch
– Kenya’s energy authority