Citi Hoppa, East Shuttle get electric buses

Electric Buses

Citi Hoppa MD Judy Thuo (left) with Jit Bhattacharya (CEO BasiGo) and Dr Joseph Njoroge, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, during the unveiling of the first electric buses for passenger use in Kenya.

Photo credit: Hilary Kimuyu | Nation Media Group

BasiGo, an e-mobility startup headquartered in Nairobi, on Wednesday flagged off the first electric buses for passenger use in Kenya.

Citi Hoppa and East Shuttle are the first PSV operators to give Kenyans their first chance to ride in an electric bus.

The buses were unveiled at an event held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) and officiated by Dr Joseph Njoroge, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. 

Jit Bhattacharya, CEO and co-founder of BasiGo, said the launch marked an important step in the journey to a cleaner and brighter future for public transit in Kenya.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with two pioneering PSV operators, Citi Hoppa and East Shuttle, to give Kenyans their first chance to ride in an electric bus,” he said.

The buses, he said, will transform expectations for bus travel in Nairobi and “we look forward to seeing them carrying passengers in safety, comfort, and with zero emissions on a daily basis”.

“With Kenya’s abundant renewable electricity to power these buses, we can make the country a global leader in the shift to sustainable public transit,” he said

The event was also attended by representatives of Citi Hoppa, East Shuttle, BYD Automotive and Kenya Power.

BYD and Kenya Power are BasiGo’s key strategic partners in the deployment of electric buses and charging infrastructure.

For his part, Dr Njoroge said a bus rapid transit (BRT) system would also be launched in Nairobi to ease traffic and the goal is to use electric buses.

“These buses from BasiGo are proof that we can make that a reality and work towards building a sustainable transport sector,” he said.

Kenya Power also pledged to work with BasiGo to develop the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

“We are ready to play our part in the electrification of transportation and will strive to support this endeavour and the transformation of the country to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Rosemary Oduor, Kenya Power CEO and acting managing director.

The buses arrived in Kenya in December 2021 and have undergone extensive validation and reliability tests in preparation for the pilot launch. The buses will now go into operation as standard PSVs with Citi Hoppa and East Shuttle.

Citi Hoppa will deploy the buses on routes between the city centre and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

East Shuttle plans to use their electric bus in Eastlands, Nairobi.

“We are excited to pilot-test this new electric bus technology and see how it performs as part of our regular bus operations,” said Githaiga Weru, operations directors for Citi Hoppa.

“We believe passengers will particularly enjoy the quiet and comfort of commuting on the electric bus, and we know these buses can have a positive impact on our environment. This innovation is timely as it gives bus operators an alternative to the regular diesel buses.”

The electric buses, said East Shuttle Finance Director John Moses Kamau, are easier for their drivers to operate while also offering a much better experience for passengers.

“With the possibility of less maintenance and avoiding the cost of diesel fuel, these buses address many of the hassles our owners face and should be better for our business overall,” he said.

BasiGo also announced it is taking reservations for the first production units of the K6 electric bus. It is a 25-seat, 250km range electric bus that recharges in less than four hours.

The K6 is designed by BYD Automotive, the largest manufacturer of electric buses in the world.

Through BasiGo’s unique pay-as-you-drive battery financing programme, owners can purchase the K6 for Sh5 million plus a daily subscription fee equal to Sh20 per kilometer, which includes the cost of leasing the battery, nightly charging at a BasiGo depot, and service and maintenance for the bus.

Customers can reserve the bus with no deposit and no cancellation penalty. BasiGo said that delivery to customers of the first locally assembled K6 electric buses will begin in the second half of 2022.

In February, BasiGo raised Sh500 million ($4.3 million) in seed funding to help it commercialise its business model and begin local assembly of electric buses.

Disrupt Africa reported in November that BasiGo had launched operations in Nairobi, having secured Sh100 million ($900,000) in funding earlier in the year.

The startup provides state-of-the-art electric buses along with charging and maintenance services for bus operators, making these vehicles affordable through a financing model that allows operators to pay for the battery and charging separately from the bus through a pay-as-you-go financing arrangement.

BasiGo has also opened a charging and servicing depot for electric buses, located adjacent to Nairobi’s JKIA.

Leveraging the fact that 73 per cent of Kenya’s electricity comes from renewable sources, each BasiGo electric bus helps to dramatically reduce air pollution and climate-warming emissions originating from Kenya’s diesel buses.

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