A few things you need to know about the E9 Kubwa – the 36-seater electric bus
The E9 Kubwa, a 36-seater electric bus designed by BasiGo, an e-mobility company based in Nairobi, is a welcome innovation that could revolutionize the public transport sector in Kenya. The E9 Kubwa is a state-of-the-art electric bus that offers a cleaner, safer, and more comfortable alternative to the conventional diesel-powered matatus. The E9 Kubwa was launched on August 10, 2023, and has already begun pilot testing with existing BasiGo customers: Super Metro, OMA Services, Embassava, City Hoppa, Metro Trans, and East Shuttle plying the Dandora route.
The E9 Kubwa has several features that make it stand out from other buses in the market. Here are some of them:
- Zero emissions: The E9 Kubwa runs on electricity, which means it does not produce any tailpipe emissions that harm the environment and human health. According to BasiGo, each E9 Kubwa electric bus is expected to help Kenya reduce diesel consumption by 20,000 liters per year while also reducing CO2 emissions by 50 tonnes per year.
- High performance: The E9 Kubwa has a powerful battery that can be recharged in 2 hours at BasiGo’s DC Fast charging depots and can drive up to 400 km per day with a mid-day charge. This makes it suitable for urban bus operations where buses typically hold 33 to 41 passengers. The E9 Kubwa also has a smooth acceleration and braking system that enhances the driving experience and reduces noise pollution.
- Enhanced passenger experience: The E9 Kubwa offers a premium passenger experience with leather seats, WiFi, CCTV cameras, and USB phone charging at every seat. The bus also has a spacious interior that can accommodate 36 passengers with the option of 18 standing passengers. The bus is also equipped with a digital display that shows the route information and the fare payment options.
- Affordable financing model: BasiGo makes the E9 Kubwa accessible to all bus operators in the city through an innovative financing model called “Pay-As-You-Drive” which makes the upfront cost of their electric bus competitive with diesel buses. BasiGo is offering the E9 Kubwa for a purchase price of Kshs 7.5 Million and a mileage-based subscription of Kshs 40 per km for charging and maintenance provided by BasiGo. BasiGo has also announced a new lease option, enabling owners to adopt the electric bus for a much lower upfront cost.
The E9 Kubwa has the potential to bring multiple benefits for Kenya’s economy, society, and environment. Some of these benefits are:
- Reduced fuel import costs: Kenya imports most of its petroleum products from abroad, which puts pressure on its foreign exchange reserves and exposes it to price fluctuations. By switching to electric buses, Kenya can reduce its dependence on imported fuel and save money that can be invested in other sectors.
- Improved air quality and public health: Air pollution is a major problem in Kenya’s urban areas, especially in Nairobi, where traffic congestion and vehicle emissions cause respiratory diseases and premature deaths. By adopting electric buses, Kenya can improve its air quality and public health by eliminating harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.
- Enhanced mobility and accessibility: Electric buses can provide reliable, convenient, and affordable public transport for Kenyans who need to travel within and between cities. Electric buses can also improve accessibility for people who live in remote or underserved areas by connecting them to essential services such as education, health care, and employment.
- Increased job opportunities and skills development: Electric buses can create new job opportunities and skills development for Kenyans who work in the e-mobility sector. This includes drivers, mechanics, technicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, and service providers who can benefit from the growing demand for electric vehicles and related infrastructure. Electric buses can also stimulate innovation and research in the fields of renewable energy, battery technology, and smart transportation.
The E9 Kubwa is a promising innovation that could transform Kenya’s public transport sector, but it also faces some challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed. Some of these are:
- Policy and regulatory framework: Kenya needs to develop and implement a supportive policy and regulatory framework that can enable the adoption and integration of electric buses in the public transport system. This includes setting standards, incentives, and guidelines for electric vehicle manufacturers, operators, and users. It also involves coordinating with relevant stakeholders such as government agencies, private sector, civil society, and academia to ensure a smooth transition to e-mobility.
- Infrastructure and maintenance: Kenya needs to invest in and expand its infrastructure and maintenance facilities for electric buses. This includes building and upgrading charging stations, power grids, roads, and parking spaces. It also involves ensuring the availability and affordability of spare parts, tools, and equipment for electric bus repair and servicing.
- Awareness and education: Kenya needs to raise awareness and education among the public and the private sector about the benefits and opportunities of electric buses. This includes conducting campaigns, workshops, demonstrations, and trainings to inform and persuade potential customers, investors, partners, and employees about the advantages of e-mobility. It also involves addressing the myths, misconceptions, and barriers that may hinder the adoption of electric buses.
The E9 Kubwa is a game-changer for Kenya’s public transport sector that could bring positive impacts for the country’s development goals. The E9 Kubwa is a product of BasiGo’s vision to bring the future of clean, electric public transport to sub-Saharan Africa. BasiGo has already proven its success with the K6 Electric Bus that was introduced last year and has been operating on various routes in Nairobi. BasiGo plans to manufacture the E9 Kubwa locally in Kenya starting later this year, which will further boost its contribution to the local economy and industry. The E9 Kubwa is a testament to Kenya’s innovation and leadership in the e-mobility sector in Africa.