NopeaRide, Kenya’s first fully electric taxi service, is exiting the market after being unable to raise additional funding to keep it afloat.
Kenya’s first fully electric taxi service, NopeaRide, is exiting the market after its parent company EkoRent OY failed to raise additional funding to keep it afloat.
NopeaRide said EkoRent Africa, the local subsidiary of the Finnish company, has filed for insolvency in Kenya, bringing to an end the operations of the all-electric vehicle taxi player, which sought to drive a shift to environmentally-friendly transport options while stepping-up competition for early market entrants Uber and Bolt.
“We have taken our fleet of electric vehicles off the road and have notified our staff and corporate clients. We are now working with relevant authorities to ensure that our operations are wound up in accordance with local legislation,” said NopeaRide in a statement.
“We would like to extend our deepest regret to our dedicated team of staff and drivers. We would also like to thank our loyal NopeaRide customers, corporate clients and other partners who have supported NopeaRide’s vision for electric mobility in Africa,” it said.
Juha Suojanen founded EkoRent Oy in 2014 to develop solutions based on electric vehicles and solar energy, which later led to the 2018 launch of NopeaRide in Kenya.
NopeaRide service was first launched in Kenya in August of 2018 (under the name NopiaRide) by a Finnish company EkoRent Oy founded in 2014. Nopea started with a small minimum viable product in Nairobi with only 3 electric vehicles and 2 chargers, and our fleet and charging network grew very moderately in the following year. Towards the end of 2019, Nopea received new funding and placed orders for additional electric vehicles and chargers.
Unfortunately, many additional vehicles arrived in Nairobi at about the same time as the strict Covid-19 curfew rules were put in place in March 2020. Those rules lead to daily kilometres driven by Nopea vehicles dropping approximately 60% overnight. The timing of these additional Nopea vehicles arriving in Kenya could not have been much worse.
Last year, NopeaRide also received €200,000 in funding, a fraction of what it was raising, from EEP Africa, a financing facility for early-stage clean energy in Southern and East Africa, to build more solar charging hubs in Nairobi, and increase its service radius in anticipation of growth.
The startup said it was on a path to recovery this year after its business was badly hit by the Covid pandemic, which led to a dip in the number of rides as people worked from home.
“In the first half of 2022, our traffic numbers grew to about the same level as before Covid-19. We also started to put more effort into the corporate segment as their employees were returning to the office and managed to sign contracts with a few big international companies, some potentially reserving the majority of available Nopea capacity,” it said.
“However, EkoRent OY went into insolvency in Finland and was unable to secure additional financing to grow the business in Nairobi to the next level.”