Electric-vehicle conversion start-up Opibus raises $ 7.5 million to kick-start mass production of buses and motorcycles – TechCrunch

Opibus, the first company in Kenya to market future-proof diesel and gasoline vehicles by converting them to electric, is set to embark on an ambitious plan to mass-produce electric buses and motorcycles after have released $ 7.5 million as part of pre-series A.

The Swedish-Kenyan company raised $ 5 million in equity and $ 2.5 million in grants in a round led by the Silicon Valley fund At One Ventures, backed by Factor[e] Ventures and pan-African venture capital firm Ambo Ventures. This is the company’s first major fundraiser, having previously raised capital from angel investors.

Opibus told TechCrunch that it plans to deliver its first electric bus by the first quarter of next year.

“We are proud to be backed by globally recognized investors who offer a balance between expertise in deep technologies and emerging markets. Together, we have achieved a clear strategic and visionary alignment, with the belief that mass-manufacturing electric mobility solutions in Africa will not only make products more accessible and affordable, but will also lead to one of the biggest transitions in Africa. industrialization and well-being of the region in modern times, ”said Filip Gardler, CEO and co-founder of Opibus.

Founded in 2017 by Gardler, Filip Lövström and Mikael Gånge, Opibus has specialized over the years in automotive conversions and is now moving towards the manufacture of fully electric vehicles, starting with motorcycles and public utility vehicles, all by developing recharging and energy solutions.

“The targets and objectives that we have set for Opibus may seem bold, but it is a mission that has become more important than ever. We have a responsibility to future generations and the earth [as a] whole, ”Gardler said.

Already, the company has started taking preorders of its electric motorcycles, while confirming to TechCrunch that demand is promising. Opibus bikes will start at $ 1,300 depending on several features, including battery capacity. The company said the competitive advantage of its product includes lower operating costs up to 60% lower than alternatives to fossil fuels.

Going forward, the company plans to move to a larger factory as it prepares to increase production to serve the entire African continent.

“We want to give vehicles a second life, but for motorcycles, we find that we will not be able to evolve fast enough if we convert motorcycles. And since we want to design a product that better than what’s already on the market, we build our bikes from scratch – designing and manufacturing them in-house, ”Opibus chief strategy and marketing officer Albin Wilson told TechCrunch.

Besides Kenya, the company’s other customers are located in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

The switch to electricity offers countries in sub-Saharan Africa a series of benefits, including lower transportation costs and lower carbon emissions. Countries like South Africa, Mauritius and Rwanda are already one step ahead. South Africa has developed a roadmap for increasing production and adoption of fully electric vehicles, while Rwanda has deployed incentives this will make their purchase and operation less costly.

“The electric mobility space in Africa represents a huge opportunity; not only to provide better service at lower cost to customers, but also to reduce carbon emissions and prevent fatal exposure to particulate pollution locally, ”Factor said.[e] Managing Partner of Ventures, Morgan DeFoort.

Reports show that electric mobility in Africa is nascent but the opportunities remain vast, especially if the infrastructure to support its adoption is built. The challenges facing the industry include the high initial cost of electric vehicles, lack of charging infrastructure, poor connectivity to the electric grid, taxation and low level of awareness of electric vehicles.

With poor infrastructure being one of the biggest setbacks in the adoption of electric vehicles, Opibus has started installing communal charging infrastructure to serve public transport providers. The company plans to install the charging stations in major cities near the country’s capital, Nairobi, as it builds a network that will support electric mass transport buses scheduled to launch next year. Opibus also plans to partner with mini-grid companies to ensure its motorcycle customers in rural areas have access to charging points.

The company sees great potential for electric vehicles on the continent, as the price of items like solar batteries drops dramatically. It has so far converted 170 vehicles to serve various customers, including mining companies and travel agencies. Its SUV conversions reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour and off-road range of just over 60 mph.

For its conversions, Opibus replaces diesel and gasoline engines with electric motors and controllers, served by battery packs equipped with minimal modifications to the chassis.

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