In a bid to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), Kenya-based EV startup Roam has announced the launch of its latest shuttle bus model, called Move. The move comes as the East African country strives to embrace sustainable transportation options and combat soaring fuel prices. Roam plans to expand its production of the Move bus and enhance its charging infrastructure to meet the anticipated surge in demand for EV buses.
Roam, a Kenyan EV startup, has introduced its new Move shuttle bus model as part of the country’s push for EV adoption. With customizable features and plans to expand production, Roam aims to meet the growing demand for EV buses in Kenya’s mass transit sector. Challenges such as insufficient charging infrastructure and high acquisition costs persist but initiatives like Roam’s Move bus demonstrate the country’s commitment to a greener and more sustainable transportation future.
Expanding Production and Features
Ramping up its operations, Roam aims to deliver 50 Move buses by February of next year, with plans to produce 40 units per month at full capacity. These 42-seater buses, assembled locally using parts sourced from China, boast a range of up to 200 kilometers. Additionally, the buses can be customized to carry up to 52 passengers.
Roam takes great pride in designing its own buses, ensuring that they meet local requirements, including high ground clearance. As Dennis Wakaba, Roam’s country sales executive explains, “Building the body locally also enhances our design offering. We have the flexibility to adjust various features such as door placement, boot space, window fittings, and even add air conditioning.”
Meeting Public Transit Needs
The launch of Roam’s Move bus is a strategic response to Kenya’s commitment to promoting EV adoption, particularly in the public transit sector. The company’s plans to introduce EV buses align with its existing motorcycle production business. Furthermore, Roam’s recent offering, Roam Rapid, aims to integrate with Kenya’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, although it is currently on hold. BasiGo, Roam’s main competitor, already operates several EV buses on major routes in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.
Growing the EV Sector in Kenya
Roam, originally founded in 2017, initially focused on auto conversions before transitioning to EV manufacturing. The company’s expertise in designing electric power trains since 2018 gives it a competitive edge and flexibility in bringing innovative products to the market. Backed by Silicon Valley fund At One Ventures, Factor[e] Ventures, and pan-African VC firm Ambo Ventures, Roam is well-positioned to drive the EV sector’s growth in Kenya.
Overcoming Challenges for EV Adoption
While Kenya continues to make strides in creating an enabling environment for EV adoption, the growth of electric mobility in Africa remains relatively slow compared to developed countries. Challenges such as weak electricity grids, inadequate charging infrastructure, and high acquisition costs hinder the widespread adoption of EVs in the region. Nevertheless, with initiatives like Roam’s Move bus and the government’s commitment to zero-rating electric buses and bicycles, as well as offering special power tariffs, Kenya is paving the way for a greener and more sustainable transportation future.