• Electric Vehicles fuelling costs are 50 per cent to 75 per cent lower than for Internal Combustion Engines vehicles, contributing to a very attractive Total Cost of Ownership.
• Currently, in Kenya, there are no public electric chargers of any kind.
US President Joe Biden has announced that all federal vehicles in the biggest economy in the world will be electric.
As of 2019, the US Government had 645,000 vehicles with a total consumption of 1.4 billion litres of fuel annually.
Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric vans from Rivian but in September 2019 there was a walkout by Amazon employees protesting the company’s climate policy.
It is clear that these decisions are not purely motivated by the love of the environment.
Firstly, EV (Electric Vehicles) fuelling costs are 50 per cent to 75 per cent lower than for ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) vehicles, contributing to a very attractive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Moreover, EV maintenance expenses are much lower than those for ICE vehicles.
There is no need to change spark plugs, oil, or air filters, and there are far fewer pumps, circuits, valves, coils, and the many other ICE components that periodically fail.
If you have a big fleet the savings become quite substantial. Yet, we see that adoption is not as high.
One way, Solar Taxis, a Ghanaian firm is tackling this is offering EVs on lease at 160 USD a month.
The company is offering the Cherry Tigo CUV 3XE 480, a Chinese car with a range of about 400kms.
By far the biggest bottleneck to EV adoption has to be the charging infrastructure.
Currently, in Kenya, there are no public electric chargers of any kind.
The only charging points available have been set up by Nopia, a full electric cab company in Kenya for use by their taxis.
This sets up a huge opportunity for county governments, national governments, matatu SACCOs, power utilities (Kengen and KPLC) and generally anyone who is in the transport and energy sector.
In China, the Shenzhen Bus Company owns its own charging infrastructure which it uses to charge its more than 6,000 fully electric buses and 5,000 fully electric taxis.
It took exactly eight years for the company to change its whole fleet from diesel to electric.
The matatu Saccos here in Kenya have the best data.
This data will show the best places to locate the EV charge points (the places they stay the longest waiting for clients) and also if it is actually viable.
EV fast chargers depending on how low the battery is add about 150kms of range in 20 minutes of charging.
If the data from matatus can show that there are stops that last 30 to 45 minutes per round trip, then in essence this will show that EV charging can actually work without disrupting their business models too much.
They could get all the benefits of EVs with minimal disruption to how they do business.
They should be the first people actually pushing these technologies to come.
All this is hinged on having a charging infrastructure.
As always where there is a challenge but therein lies the opportunity.
The writer is a solar I in Kenya and moderator at AfricaNEV