Ampersand to use BYD’s battery cells in its electric motorcycles

Ampersand has joined hands with BYD to source battery cells for its electric motorcycles. The Rwanda-based startup, founded in 2016, owns a large fleet of electric commercial motorcycles with swappable batteries.

Image: Ampersand

On 18 June, Ampersand signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BYD to acquire battery cells for 40,000 electric motorcycles by the end of 2026. The company hasn’t disclosed the form factor, chemistry, energy density, or any other specifications of these battery cells.

Although unconfirmed, it’s almost certain that Ampersand will source prismatic LFP battery cells from BYD, as the Chinese supplier specialises in such battery cells. In fact, the company has hinted at that in the announcement, saying BYD’s LFP cells are ideal for mass-market models because of being long-lasting, safe, and inexpensive.

Ampersand has the largest electric fleet and charging infrastructure in Rwanda and Kenya and it says the deal with BYD will allow it to grow those businesses rapidly. In the long term, the company wants to electrify a large portion of the continent’s 30 million commercial motorbikes.

Commenting on the new development, Ampersand CEO Josh Whale said that the company’s deep customer insight and technical product know-how along with BYD’s battery cells and manufacturing capacity will help it speed up electrifying the commercial motorcycle segment in Africa. The switch to EVs will save millions of hardworking motorcycle riders $600 each a year, he added.

Sihai Zhang from BYD threw light on the urgency to electrify the big used commercial motorcycle segment, saying these are intensively used vehicles and replacing them with EVs is a logical first step in the process of decarbonisation.

Based in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali, Ampersand became the first company to introduce electric motorcycles in Africa in May 2019. Its electric motorcycles have been ridden for 180 million km over the past four years, saving 8,000 tons in CO2 emissions.,


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