Ride-hailing giant, Bolt, is set to introduce electric taxi options in South Africa, coming four months after it rolled out e-bike food delivery services in the country. The on-demand transport firm will introduce a ‘green category’ that will let riders choose an electric or a hybrid vehicle. “We are looking to roll out a green taxi category in South Africa in the next few months, and plan to roll out green categories in other African markets,” Bolt’s Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East, Paddy Partridge, said. The company already offers the option in Kenya, where it has also successfully launched e-bike food delivery.
South Africa, as well as many other African countries, are unable to adopt electric transportation options on a wide scale due to hindrances which include a lack of recharging infrastructure, low grid power connectivity, and the high cost of electric vehicles. The foremost of these problems, however, is the expensive price of electric vehicles, and Bolt said that it was in talks with various South African financial institutions to assist Bolt drivers in acquiring the funds needed to purchase electric vehicles. “The purchase cost and import duties are often high, thereby deterring ownership. We are exploring several vehicle financing partnerships in Kenya and South Africa for electric cars and bikes, which would help make it easier for drivers to get access to, and eventually own, electric vehicles,” Paddy Partridge said.
The company’s expansion of the electric taxi option to South Africa comes as the company battles against stiff competition from rival companies such as Uber. Earlier this year, Bolt launched its food delivery service in Nigeria, and also expanded its reach in South Africa by rolling out the service in Johannesburg.
Under a short period of time, the Estonia-based company has designed itself as a transport and deliveries company, offering a range of services including ride-hailing, car, scooter and bike rentals, food delivery, and grocery delivery, with operations in more than 300 cities in 45 countries across Europe, Western Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Its core business, however, remains to provide “reliable, safe and affordable transportation services to everyone and we are excited to make travel easier and quicker in many cities across the continent,” Paddy Partridge said. The company has over 1 million drivers offering rides on the platform and a customer base of over 50 million globally.
Bolt’s expansion of electric transportation options to South Africa offers a range of benefits, including affordable transport and a reduction in emissions. The use of electric vehicles is also expected to tackle the challenges associated with fluctuating fuel prices, and the issue of fuel being the highest operating cost for Bolt’s couriers.