Ampersand, one of the pioneers in the African electric motorcycle sector, is ramping up its operations. Ampersand was founded in 2014 in Kigali, Rwanda, and quickly started work on motorbike and battery prototypes which were put on road to get real data in the actual conditions that the motorcycles would be used by customers in the target market. Along with valuable insights, this helped validate and refine its assumptions and then iterate based on the findings. Armed with this knowledge, Ampersand launched the first phase of its commercial operations in May 2019. The company launched with 20 bikes of the improved motorcycle, Africa’s first sales of an electric taxi motorcycle.
Ampersand says all of the 20 bikes are still on the road almost 4 years since being introduced on the streets of Kigali. Ampersand then proceeded to rollout battery swap stations around Kigali. These stations support Ampersand moto-taxi drivers by providing them with an efficient and fast energy top up model with a similar user experience in terms of time spent at the station as internal combustion engine motorcycles riders in the motorcycle taxi industry are used to at petrol stations.
Ampersand’s motorcycles have been well received in the market, leading to a backlog of reservations. The waiting list currently stands at just over 7,000. One of the major reasons for the uptake was the easier operations and maintenance associated with electric vehicles. Ampersand says its heavy investment in R&D and production on the ground in Kigali has also produced a very reliable battery. In East Africa, Ampersand’s bikes are running between 10,000 and 40,000 km before any service calls, that’s about half a year’s mileage for most riders based on the general nature of the motorcycle taxi industry in that part of the world. This has been a game-changer for riders as compared to the service intervals for their old ICE motorcycles. ICE motorcycle users have to do oil changes every two weeks or less depending on mileage. Along with changing oil filters, this comes out to about $200 per year that riders have to fork out just for servicing their motorcycles. But the lion’s share of the savings comes from replacing fuel with battery swaps. Before 2022, Ampersand provided a saving of around 35%, or $500 a year. With current fuel prices, that saving has skyrocketed to nearly 50%.
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.