Mobility startups are earning their keep and making their rounds at the Glasgow COP26. Opibus, a sub-Saharan African electric vehicle manufacturer, recently announced their $7.5 million funding led by Silicon Valley fund At One Ventures, further supported by Factor[e] Ventures and Ambo Ventures managed by former Google and Uber executives.
The investment is the largest ever in an electric mobility company in sub-Saharan Africa and is aimed to scale its operations in electric motorcycle and bus manufacturing.
Opibus, which has existing customers across six countries in Africa, provides electric vehicles designed and manufactured locally. Its vision is to create reliable and cost-effective products designed for the pan-African mass market.
With several vehicles in different categories deployed, Opibus has reduced customer CO₂ emissions by 94% and operational expenditures by more than 60%. The company has a unique approach to both heavy electric vehicles and electric motorcycles.
“We are proud to be backed by globally recognised investors providing a balance between deep-tech and emerging market expertise. We have together reached a clear strategic and visionary alignment – with the conviction that mass manufacturing of electric mobility solutions in Africa will not only make the products more accessible and affordable, but also lead to one of the largest industrialization and welfare transitions of the region in modern time,” said Filip Gardler, CEO and co-founder of Opibus.
The closed fundraising consists of $5 million in equity and $2.5 million in additional grants. The investments will be used to prepare for scale-up and mass manufacturing starting in 2022.
Gardler also says with solar being implemented as an alternative energy source for electricity, he sees this as opening up affordable and accessible opportunities for rural areas to also be included in using electric vehicles. Africa is one of the fastest-growing transportation markets globally, with a total market potential of $10 billion by 2030, and it is largely untapped.
“The targets and objectives we’ve set for Opibus might seem bold, however, it is a mission that has become more important than ever. We have a responsibility to the coming generations and the earth as a whole” Gardler says.
When asked how he compares with Ameprsand and his thoughts on their seed funding announcement Gardler said: “We are both on the same team, we are both trying to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport and we think competition in this space is healthy.
“The difference we see is probably that they import a finished product and assemble it and focus more on operating the vehicles. While we focus on designing and building a type built vehicle for the market that fits the market and we are aiming at reducing price and selling at scale. Another difference is that we also convert commercial vehicles and buses to electric which ampersand don’t do.”
Opibus was founded in 2017 and has over the years developed products in three main segments, electric motorcycles, electric public transport/commercial vehicles as well as charging and energy solutions. The focus is on creating sustainable ecosystems for mass transport in Africa. The company is also recognised for having produced the first truly African electric motorcycle.
For more conversations around the electrification of mass transport in Africa, visit Smarter Mobility Africa on-demand sessions on the link below.