Germany based electric vehicle company Ampersand is conducting trials on electric motorcycle taxis (e-Moto) in Rwanda in a move that could revolutionise the boda boda industry in the East African country.
After close to three years of research and development, the e-vehicle company announced on September 25 that it is testing four different e-Moto models, specifically for motorcycle taxi drivers.
Ampersand projects that initial e-Moto trials show an average of 65km range per charge, with the boda bodas (or Taxi Moto as they are referred to in some parts of Rwanda) reaching a top speed of over 80km/h.
The Berlin-based company which has been operating in Kigali, Rwanda, says the electric motor gives the e-Moto greater torque and carrying power, and says this advantage has seen it outperform the incumbent 125cc petrol bikes on speed, climbing and acceleration tests.
Ampersand founder and chief executive officer Josh Whale hailed the move as the biggest opportunity for kicking-off a global mass-market electric vehicle revolution in Africa.
“This may be the world’s first truly mass-market electric vehicle that’s cheaper and better than its petrol counterpart,” Mr. Whale said.
It is estimated that boda boda drivers in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, cover around 188km per day. Across East Africa, the boda boda industry has become a multimillion business in its ability to accomodate mass mobility in areas with rough terrain and poor road connectivity.
The popularity of boda bodas in Kenya is reported to have raked in around Ksh600 million per day into the transportation industry. Such is the viability of motorcycle taxis that even hailing companies Uber and Taxify have introduced boda bodas into their transport service offerings.
Ampersand’s tests project that e-Motos could generate a 75% net reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to petrol bikes. In a year, fuel savings could range from upwards of Ksh90,000 per bike, the company says.
The company is still remaining tight-lipped on final pricing figures, but says the e-Moto will cost less than the current petrol incumbents. Its launch in Rwanda is slated for late 2019.