Opibus is the first company in Kenya to achieve commercialization by converting diesel and gasoline vehicles into electric vehicles.After obtaining $7.5 million in funding before the A round of financing, the company will begin its grand plan for mass production of electric buses and motorcycles.
The Swedish-Kenyan company raised US$5 million in equity and US$2.5 million in grants in a round led by Silicon Valley fund At One Ventures and supported by Factor[e]Ventures and pan-African venture capital firm Ambo Ventures. This round of financing is the company’s first major financing, and it has previously raised funds from angel investors.
Opibus said it hopes to deliver its first electric bus in the first quarter of next year. Opibus was founded in 2017 by Gardler, Filip Lövström and Mikael Gånge. It has been focusing on car modification for many years and is now turning to full electric vehicle manufacturing, first of all motorcycles and public commercial vehicles, while developing charging and energy solutions. The company has already begun accepting pre-orders for electric motorcycles, starting at $1,300, depending on several characteristics including battery capacity. The company said its products’ competitive advantages include reduced operating costs, which are 60% lower than fossil fuel alternatives.
The field of electric vehicles in Africa represents a huge opportunity not only to provide better services to customers at a lower cost, but also to reduce carbon emissions and avoid deadly particulate pollution in Africa. The company plans to install charging centers in major towns near the country’s capital, Nairobi, and it has established a network that can support the electric buses for public transportation scheduled to be launched next year. Opibus also plans to establish partnerships with small grid companies to ensure that its motorcycle customers in rural areas have access to charging points.
The company believes that as the prices of solar cells and other items drop significantly, electric vehicles have great potential for development on the African continent. So far, the company has modified 170 vehicles to provide services to different customers including mining companies and travel companies. During the modification process, Opibus replaced diesel and gasoline engines with electric motors and controllers, served by battery packs, and made minimal modifications to the chassis.