Electric vehicle dealership, META Electric, has imported Kenya’s first new electric vehicles (EVs). Their mission is to promote greener transportation in one of Africa’s most polluted cities and to pave the way for critical investment in EV infrastructure. The T3 delivery vans are manufactured by BYD, the largest supplier of rechargeable batteries in the world.
‘The fight against climate change is urgent and we need environmental pathfinders who are prepared to go the extra mile at this early stage of adoption,” says Brian Chege, General Manager of META Electric, a start-up founded by META Group Africa. “META Group wants to lead the way.’
‘Driving an EV van around Nairobi is a bold statement of a company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, because without subsidies the economic benefits are marginal. The Total Cost of Ownership is still higher than for an Internal Combustion Engine vehicle, due to the high buy-in price and little clarity on what the residual value will be in this new market. But in terms of operating expenses it beats the diesel competition hands down, costing less than half for fuel, servicing and maintenance and repairs at very reasonable mileage.’
As motorised vehicle use increases across Africa, the residents of cities like Nairobi are suffering the effects of worsening air pollution. Levels of particulate matter in the city’s outdoor air are 70% above the WHO recommended safe limit; respiratory diseases are a leading cause of illness and death among children in the country. The country’s vehicle fleet is set to double between 2016 and 2023 so switching to electric mobility will be essential for public health and limiting environmental damage.
Transport company Neo Kenya Mpya, one of Nairobi’s biggest public bus operators, are one of META Electric’s first customers. They will use BYD vans in trials of different electric solutions. ’Our goal is that at least ten percent of our fleet is powered sustainably by 2025,’ said Douglas Kuria, CEO of Neo Kenya Mpya Limited. ‘We are optimistic that META Electric vehicles will play a part in reducing the huge proportion of GHGs that comes from passenger transport.
‘As Nairobi’s population swells, we must all work, together with Government, to improve planning of city roads, terminus and parking spaces so that EVs can seamlessly substitute diesel-powered vehicles and deliver the Nationally Determined Contributions Kenya has committed to, in accordance with the Paris Agreement.’
The Sustainable Mobility Unit of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supports developing and transitional counties switch to low emissions mobility. In Africa, UNEP is working with governments, private sector, academia, civil society and other stakeholders to integrate sustainable transport into development planning processes, and to increase funding for greener mobility.
David Rubia, a Programme Management Officer with UNEP says it is critical for uptake in Africa that companies like META Electric start investing in electric vehicles. ‘The only way we can demonstrate to governments and consumers that electric mobility has real potential for Africa is if the vehicles are here, on the ground. That requires companies like META Electric to take a leap of faith and invest. Vehicle ownership across the continent is going to triple by 2050. This new fleet needs to be low emissions if we are going to achieve the necessary global greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
‘The current mobility model in Africa – where most countries predominantly import second-hand internal combustion engine vehicles and then import fossil fuels to run them – is unfavourable on many levels, including balance of trade, public health and the fact it doesn’t create local manufacturing jobs. As we transition to sustainable mobility to reduce emissions, it’s also an opportunity for African economies to correct this skewed model.’
The T3 van is manufactured by Chinese company BYD – “Build Your Dreams”- and has been highly reviewed. It comes with AC charger (8 hours charging time) and an optional DC charger (1.5 hours charging time). It has a range of 300km, or 250km at full capacity. The engine is silent and exceptionally high torque means the vehicle moves from stationary almost instantly, even when carrying heavy loads.
META Group Africa’s mission is to become a leading supplier of electric commercial vehicles, selling and leasing units across East Africa to customers who want to switch to cleaner transportation. As the cost of production reduces, electric mobility is becoming increasingly attractive. Total cost of ownership for EVs is set to fall lower than for internal combustion engines, making the economics of switching as compelling as the environmental benefits.
For further information please contact:
Brian Chege, General Manager, META Electric
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