The Kenyan electric motorcycle company Ecobodaa will soon launch its next generation electric motorcycle, the Umeme 3000. Umeme is Swahili for electricity. Ecobodaa started operations in 2020 after founder Kimosop Chepkoit, who had earlier used his savings to start an ICE motorcycle leasing firm in Nairobi, became fascinated with electric motorcycles. He then started to ask around to get some insights on how the market would respond to electric bikes. Using data acquired from his fleet of over 75 ICE motorcycles, he then founded Ecobodaa and started working on an electric motorcycle for the local market.
Once Ecobodaa had found a suitable electric motorcycle, a pilot program was launched in some parts of Nairobi to gain some feedback on the performance, as well as valuable insights from key stakeholders in the Kenyan motorcycle taxi industry popularly known as the boda boda industry. Ecobodaa CEO Kimosop Chepkoit says the pilot program showed that the company has been able to save riders 36% on daily fuel spend, over 75% on repairs, and 90% on servicing over a period of 3 months. These are significant savings for boda boda riders. Lowering their operating costs will help riders build some savings.
Valuable feedback from motorcycle riders has helped Ecobodaa upgrade its motorcycle to be better suited for the African use case, where motorcycles are primarily for commercial use, such as ferrying passengers and goods. This means overloading and long hours of usage. Most Asian-built electric motorcycles are not built for such intense usage; they are mostly for private use. Here is a summary of the new Umeme 3000 electric motorcycle’s specs:
Rating: 3.24 kWh
Charge time: Charging time: 4.5 hrs (200-240V AC)
Chemistry: Lithium-ion NMC high grade cells
Cycles: 1000 at 100% SoC, 1500 at 80% SoC (4 yrs of daily use)
Swappable: Yes, the Umeme 3000 has slots for 2 x 3.24 kWh battery packs
Range: 80 km (Avg. speed of 55kph with passenger — 90kg), Dual battery range: 160km
Battery pack weight: 20kg per pack
Battery management systems also incorporate PAYGO functionality. The battery can only be used upon purchase of tokens as well as real-time monitoring of battery health through IoT.
Rating: 3 kW mid-drive motor (with chain)
Ingress Protection: IP67 Waterproof
Operating Temperature: Up to 150 degrees Celsius
Efficiency: 92% efficiency
Top Speed: 120kph (programmable up to 150kph)
Acceleration: 90kph in 5 seconds (programmable)
*Programmable Speed Settings to suit usage scenario
Front Wheels: 1.6×17″ Aluminum alloy wheels
Front Tires: 2.75×17″ 40% rubber tires
Rear Wheels: 1.85×17″ Aluminum alloy wheels
Rear Tires: 3.00×17″ 40% rubber tires
Brakes: Front and Rear hydraulic disc brakes
Designed in Kenya, the Umeme 3000 is assembled in Nairobi from a combination of local and imported components. “So far we are only sourcing about 20% of the parts locally, but as we build capacity and find suitable partners, we hope to increase this to over 50% within 2 years” says Kimosop. “Our iteration from the previous version was basically informed from the feedback and surveys we conducted on 500 riders. We sought to understand why they loved the 150cc ICE motorcycles so much. The answers lay in 5 things; availability of spares, performance in terms of torque, aesthetics, cost of servicing, and durability. We then modeled our bike to be compatible with most of the locally available spares, improved on performance, and aesthetics.”
It’s really good to see local Kenyan companies such as Ecobodaa moving from pilots to commercial roll-outs. The Kenyan motorcycle taxi industry is a huge market that is currently running on millions of polluting fossil motorcycles. A study by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC, now called the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, or EPRA) on the Global Fuel Economy Initiative Study in Kenya (GFEI), cites that emissions from motorcycles of less than 150 cc are about 46.5 g/km of CO2. The average annual distance covered by motorcycles is around 17,800 km. With over 2 million motorcycles on the road and growing exponentially, it is critical that the transition to electric mobility is accelerated.
The final pricing of the Umeme 3000 and the battery rental/swapping costs are to be announced soon.
All images by Remeredzai
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