Electric cars are changing the automotive industry previously and are still dominated by combustion engine cars. With the world fast embracing clean modes of transport, electric cars are being termed the future of the automobile industry.
In this article, I will focus on understanding electric cars in Kenya. The use and deployment of electric cars still lag in developing countries compared to their developed peers. This is mainly due to limitations in form of infrastructure, policies, and financial ability.
As a developing country, Kenya has not made many gains on this end but there are signs things are starting to change.
Global electric cars market
China leads the electric vehicle sales in terms of numbers per year closely followed by the united states and Germany. However, in terms of usage, Norway leads the list with over 87% of its new cars being electric. It is closely followed by Iceland and Sweden.
When it comes to manufacturing, the top companies are already starting to go clear of the rest. The top 3 manufacturers of electric vehicles include;
A key thing to note this list is different from the car manufacturers that have dominated the internal combustion engine market for decades.
Most global countries are also facilitating the manufacture and uptake of electric cars through various incentives such as subsidies and tax cuts.
Electric cars in Kenya
There have been some attempts to introduce electric cars in the country mainly through various public transport initiatives. As an example, the Nissan leaf initiative targets taxi drivers in the country. The company also takes charge of various car aspects such as charging.
Some companies such as Basigo are focusing to introduce electric buses across major cities such as Nairobi in the country. These buses will have an average range of 250 kilometers on a single charge.
Other than these cars targeting public transport, some individuals are buying electric cars for their use. However, the numbers remain low with expectations to increase in the future.
How many electric vehicles are there in Kenya?
According to the numbers available, there are less than 500 electric vehicles in the country with the majority being in public transport. However, when you include hybrid cars (cars that use both electric mortars and combustion engine), this number could go into the thousands.
Electric car charging stations in Kenya
The number of electric car charging stations continues to increase with both private and public companies investing to set up this infrastructure.
Recently, Kenya power announced plans to set up the charging infrastructure across the country. This will see the company set up charging infrastructure in homes businesses and public spaces.
The plan known as the e-mobility network infrastructure system will enable the users to pay for the charging services just as it happens in the petrol stations. The piloting of this project is underway both in Nairobi and Nakuru cities.
Below are some of the charging locations for electric cars in Kenya.
- Waterfront Karen
- Two Rivers mall
- Sarit center Westlands
- Holy Family Basilica Nairobi Parking
- The Hub Karen
Alternatively, you can create your charging station in the house or business. The cost of charging a car could range between 1,000 to 5,000 shillings depending on the size of the battery and charging services provider.
Some electric car manufacturing companies are also setting up battery swapping stations. This technology is yet to get into the country. However, you can’t rule it out in the future. Battery swapping involves removing the empty battery and replacing it with the one that is fully charged.
What is the price of electric cars in Kenya?
The cost of electric cars is dependent on the type and size of the car. However, this could average between 1,500,000 million shillings for smaller cars such as Nissan leaf to 10 million shillings for luxurious brands.
The costs remain high compared to the traditional combustion engine cars in the country could go lower than 1 million shillings.
Benefits of having an electric car in Kenya
Several benefits come with having an electric car in Kenya. Some of these include;
Lower fuel costs – The costs of charging an electric car are lower than using fuel for combustion engine vehicles. This translates to lower car operating costs in the long run.
Less environmental pollution– In the era of global warming, having an electric car is ideal due to the use of clean energy. A factor that is key in reducing global warming in the long term.
Lower maintenance costs – An electric car has fewer moving parts than a combustion engine car making the maintenance requirements lower. This also helps to minimize the costs of owning the car in the long term.
Less tax payment– Through an initiative to encourage the use of electric cars, the government has reduced some taxes such as the exercise duty from 25% to 10% helping to reduce the costs of buying the car.
Challenges of having an electric car in Kenya
As a young industry, the electric car market is still facing some inherent challenges. Some of these include;
Lack of necessary infrastructure– Using an electric car requires the development of supporting infrastructures such as charging stations and repair centers. Most of the infrastructure available is concentrated in Nairobi with the rest of Kenya having none at all making it a challenge to own a car in these areas.
The availability of skilled professionals to maintain these cars is also limited with the one’s available offering services at a premium.
High and unreliable cost of electricity– The price of electricity in Kenya remains high compared to other global countries making it more expensive to charge the car. Power in Kenya is also unstable and could result in inconveniences for electric users.
High purchase price of the car– One of the reasons why the adoption of electric cars in Kenya remains low is the purchase price. Most electric cars are retailing above what the majority of Kenyans can afford making it a challenge to buy one.
Government regulations-The government is yet to fully roll our regulations on electric car usage in Kenya both at the private and public levels. This has seen most investors take a cautious approach, especially when approaching matters such as public transport investment.