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China’s BYD to build 40,000 electric motorcycles in Rwanda

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Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD has joined forces with Rwandan startup Ampersand to mass produce 40,000 electric motorcycles by 2026.

The landmark partnership will see Ampersand purchase BYD’s cutting-edge lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries to manufacture a new fleet of high-tech, low-cost electric motorbikes or “e-bodas.”

It marks BYD’s first major foray into Africa’s rapidly expanding electric mobility market as the company pivots toward new frontiers amid trade tensions with Western nations.

For the startup Ampersand, leveraging BYD’s global expertise combines vital technical firepower with its own deep knowledge of local markets like Rwanda and Kenya, where it already operates East Africa’s largest electric charging networks.

BYD’s world-leading battery cells and manufacturing scale, combined with our insights, will fast-track electrifying Africa’s 30 million commercial motorcycles,” Ampersand CEO Josh Whale, said.

The project’s mission is twofold: decarbonizing urban transport while uplifting the livelihoods of the continent’s legions of motorbike taxi and delivery riders.

By replacing older, polluting motorcycle fleets with BYD’s durable, low-cost electric models, the partners aim to collectively slash emissions while enabling drivers to save around $600 annually on running costs.

Electrifying intensively used commercial motorcycles is a logical first step to decarbonize a huge potential market across the Global South,” stated BYD’s Sihai Zhang.

Read also: Nigeria to send its first human to space; partners Blue Origin

The move aligns with sustainability policies in nations like Rwanda exempting electric vehicles from import duties to combat urban air pollution and climate change.

As African megacities explode in population, the BYD-Ampersand alliance positions the electric “boda boda” at the vanguard of an affordable, clean mobility revolution transforming chaotic motorbike taxi scenes.

With major funding already secured, the collaboration wields the potential to rapidly scale a mass-market electric motorcycle ecosystem from production to charging infrastructure across the continent.

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