Kenyan entrepreneur Christopher Maara founded Kiri EV to address the mobility needs of Kenyans who currently rely on petrol-powered small vehicles. The aim is to provide them with a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative. Kiri EV services include motorcycles equipped with removable and swappable rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and a GPS device that tracks vehicles and allows drivers of the electric vehicles to ‘pay-as-you-go’ (PAYGo). Additional features being developed for the GPS include accident detection and ambulance dispatch capabilities.
Transportation accounts for 23% of household expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa. Households struggle with high oil prices and the instability of African currencies. Additionally, growing urban populations and inefficient public transport systems have led to an increase in the number of motorcycles in cities, contributing to higher levels of air pollution. Kiri EV is also targeting rural areas, where fuel prices can be up to 7% to 10% higher than in urban areas. The company’s electric vehicles can provide savings of up to 60% for riders.
Kiri EV offers an alternative to petrol-powered vehicles. The fully electric motorcycles and scooters’ removable batteries enable quick swaps with fully charged units when needed, thereby saving riders valuable time. Kiri EVs are designed with space for two lithium-ion batteries, allowing riders to interchange them when one requires charging, which they can do without assistance in just five minutes.
Riders can purchase individual batteries; each one provides 60 to 70 kilometres per charge, compared to a range of up to 40 kilometres per litre with petrol-powered vehicles. In contrast to existing electric motorcycles on the market, Kiri EV riders have a portable charger that fits most plug sockets so they can charge the battery wherever there is access to electricity, granting them greater mobility.
The battery powers a 3kW electric hub-motor. A vehicle control unit regulates the power from the battery to the motor.
As an additional feature, Kiri EV motorcycles come equipped with a PAYGo/GPS monitoring device, facilitating payments, enabling tracking for insurance purposes, and detecting accidents to trigger an emergency response. This device can be used by insurance companies to incentivise safer and more responsible driving on public roads.
Kiri EV directly competes with manufacturers of petrol motorcycles. It aims to emerge as a leader in Kenya's electric vehicle transition through innovative and cost-effective solutions tailored to the specific usage and environmental requirements of Kenyan consumers.