Leading asset financing company, Watu Credit Limited has announced a strategic partnership with Battery-as-a-Service provider ARC Ride, bolstered by the incorporation of global auto parts Tier1 company Musashi Seimitsu Industry Co., Ltd. The collaboration aims to manufacture 1,000 electric vehicles (EV) and establish over 300 battery swap stations in Nairobi by the end of 2024.
‘’As Watu, we strongly believe that EV is the future. In recognition of the fact that coming up with the next EV for the African market is an expensive venture, we started investing in ARC Ride to help them in their research and innovation and delivery of bikes responsive to the African market to the ground, ‘’ says Erick Massawe, Kenya Country Manager at Watu.
ARC Ride is an electric mobility or electric vehicle (EV) startup that builds electric vehicles and runs a Battery-as-a-Service business in Nairobi, Kenya.
ARC Ride’s electric motorbikes are being developed in Kenya through extensive research to ensure they meet local needs. The bikes can be operated with very low maintenance as they need no oil, chains, gears, and no fuel to operate.
Growing network of swap stations in Nairobi
Watu has consistently been dedicating resources to the development of ARC Ride with an aim to further grow the electric motorbike sector in Kenya. In addition to supporting the production of EVs, Watu is facilitating the set up of battery-swapping stations in Nairobi.
‘’For most of our riders who use their bikes for business, what they care about is being able to run a more efficient business by spending less on fuel and also having an EV that they can use without worrying that the battery will run dry in the middle of nowhere. We are helping ARC Ride set up more battery-swapping stations across Nairobi. Currently, ARC Ride has put up 76 battery-swapping stations across Nairobi and its environs, with a target of having at least 100 stations by the end of this year. This is central to making more and more boda boda riders make the switch to EVs’’ notes Eric Massawe.
The 76 swap sites are in various locations along Eastlands, Ngong Road, Githurai, Westlands, Kiambu Road, Kebete, Mombasa Road and Thika Super Highway. The battery swap stations serve at least 50 riders per day, and these numbers have been going up as the number of swap stations increase.
ARC Ride, represented by George Songe, said: “We are expanding our network of automated swapping stations to ensure that electric boda customers can conveniently replace their batteries when the need arises. Customers can replace batteries in under a minute for as low as Ksh 350 per day, for unlimited swaps.”
To make them secure and accessible, the swap stations are set up through partnerships with food chain outlets such as Dominos and Artcaffe and fuel marketing firms such as Ola Energy. A few more partnerships in the pipeline will be announced before the end of 2023.
Erick added that Watu decided to be involved in the EV development process because they’ve been exposed to the challenges that must be addressed to enable EV adoption across the continent.
The Kenyan government has prioritised the adoption of e-motorbikes into the boda boda sector, and Watu’s investment aligns with the efforts to improve access to charging infrastructure in Kenya. It will further contribute to meeting Kenya’s goal of ensuring that at least five per cent of all recently imported vehicles are fully electric by 2025, as stated in the National Climate Change Action Plan.
Andrii Volokha, General Manager for East Africa at Watu, commented: “We want to offer financing solutions that not only make access to e-motorbikes affordable to our customers and accessible nationwide. This investment will boost their penetration and uptake as we play our part to contribute to a just transition.”
Watu has been at the forefront of asset financing for two and three-wheeler vehicles. So far, the company has financed the purchase of over 100 electric assets in Kenya.
Erick expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, saying it will further elevate Kenya’s prospect as a leading e-mobility hub, especially for boda bodas in Africa.
Watu’s e-motorbike financing model enables customers to acquire an electric motorcycle for as little as Ksh 450 daily, promoting sustainable mobility.