Taxi-hailing service and electric mobility company NopeaRide is closing up shop in Kenya. This follows the announcement that their majority shareholder, EkoRent Oy, has declared insolvency in Finland.
Consequently, InfraCo Africa Limited, the minority shareholder, has now filed for the liquidation of EkoRent Africa Limited in the High Court of Kenya. This is because EkoRent Oy was the principal financier of EkoRent Africa Limited and all the technical knowledge lay with them.
NopeaRide has now taken its fleet of electric vehicles off the road and notified its staff and corporate clients. The service was first launched in Kenya in August 2018 (under the name NopiaRide) by the Finnish company, EkoRent Oy.
Nopea started with a small minimum viable product in Nairobi with only 3 electric vehicles and 2 chargers and their fleet and charging network grew moderately in the following year.
“Since the NopeaRide launch 5 years ago, we have imported 70 Nopea electric vehicles to Kenya that had driven more than 4 000 000 kilometers by June 2022 saving over 650 tons of CO2 emissions. NopeaRide also operated the largest electric vehicle charging network in East Africa.” NopeaRide team in a statement.
NopeaRide is Exiting Kenya for Good
So what went wrong?
In a statement on their website, Nopea has detailed the journey that led to their closure.
Towards the end of 2019, Nopea received new funding and placed orders for additional electric vehicles and chargers. Unfortunately, many of the additional vehicles arrived in Nairobi at just about the same time when the strict Covid-19 curfew rules were put in place in March 2020. Those rules lead to daily kilometers driven by Nopea vehicles dropping approximately 60% overnight.
In 2021, Nopea added more electric vehicles to their fleet and opened new Nopea charging stations. Nopea grew, but never reached the traffic levels they had before the pandemic-related curfew rules were put in place. Many companies still had a significant portion of employees working from home, and the economy had not recovered, leading to a reduced number of private taxi users.
At the start of 2022, NopeaRide and a local leading technology and research university signed a cooperation agreement to build a Solar Charging Car Port for Nopea electric vehicles. This also came with an option for electric BodaBoda (eBoda) battery swap stations.
In the first half of 2022, their traffic numbers grew to about the same level as before Covid-19. However, EkoRent OY went into insolvency in Finland and could not secure additional financing to grow the business in Nairobi to the next level.