ThinkBikes has developed an electrified version of its pedal truck using mostly locally sourced materials and components, which helps dramatically reduce costs.ThinkBikes, a scrappy Nigerian startup, is aiming to kickstart the country’s transition to electric transportation by manufacturing rugged, affordable eBikes using largely local materials and labor. Founded by Olugokun Tolulope, CEO of Think Electric Africa and a former a professor of engineering, the company serves the so-called micro-mobility market with locally manufactured two- and three-wheel pedal vehicles for last-mile transport of goods and people.
The company is currently tooling up to introduce the Alpha 1. It’s an electrified version of their rugged pedal truck, which provides users with greater speed, range, and cargo capacity.
Reducing Cost for the Consumer
Despite their many advantages, eBikes have had difficulty gaining mass market sales in most parts of Africa because the products being imported are too expensive for the average person. ThinkBikes believes it has solved this problem by manufacturing the conventional or electrified bike locally. This significantly reduces their cost, in part, by avoiding the heavy import taxes placed on most goods and materials.
To achieve these savings, more than 90% of Alpha 1’s components, including the wheels and batteries, are locally sourced, with most of the imported content being the 1.5-kW (peak) motor and controller. The bikes’ 1.68-kWh power packs are assembled locally using recycled 18650 cells. The detachable pack provides up to 100 km of driving when empty and 60 km when loaded.
This video, prepared for the final round of the Climate Launchpad competition, provides some additional details of ThinkBikes’ business model, as well as the potential economic and environmental benefits of widespread adoption of eBikes in Africa.
But even at $1,000-$1,500, a commercial-grade electric ThinkBike would be beyond the reach of many Nigerian citizens and businesses. In response, the company is using a small grant from Siemens Stiftung to develop a short-term leasing program that will provide on-demand transportation for as low as $24/month. They’re also working on a business model that will allow people to buy the bikes without batteries (the most expensive component), and then lease or rent the packs from ThinkBikes.