Could the UK benefit from electric motorcycle taxis?

The Rwandan Government is issuing national policy-guidelines to introduce electric-only motorcycles taxis; Could we see something similar in the UK?

Ampersand E taxi

After two years of development and trials beginning in late 2018, electric motorcycle firm Ampersand has finally got approval from Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame to roll out the e-motorcycle taxis across the country.

President Kagame said: “We urge taxi-moto operators to help us when the phase-out process comes”

The new Ampersand Electric taxis have a range of 65km and a top speed of 85km - so about the same performance as a 125cc petrol-powered bike. The e-taxis are calculated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Rwanda by 75% and the company has the backing of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) through its Frontier Technology Livestreaming programme, designed to help DfID apply frontier technologies to development challenges.

Motorcycle taxis in Rwanda are a common mode of transport, with around 30 thousand operating in the capital city of Kigali, and over 3 million people riding them in East Africa alone. 

Rwanda motorcycle taxi company Nyirishema explained that switching to electric motorcycles is part of a wider national strategy to move Rwanda’s entire mobility network to electric, as the country takes strides to stay at the frontier of technology and e-commerce. 

Nyirishema also commented that once the national policy is finalised the firm will no longer permit any new non-electric motorcycle taxis to the fleet - so long as there is an appropriate transition period for the switch over. 

Now, with Africa’s motorcycle taxi market estimated to be worth $4 billion US and the market receiving investment from Uber and Bolt, could it be possible to see these e-motorcycles in Europe or the UK?

Let’s all think about it for a moment... Bird self-drive electric scooters are all the rage, Uber electric bicycles are starting to make an appearance, and unlicensed tricycle taxis are a hit with tourists. Is an electric motorcycle taxi really that far out? And could it the answer to London’s transport crisis, or any mega city for that matter? 

Take London as an example, cars in the city have an average speed of 7.8mph, the streets are pretty much at a standstill during rush-hour despite millions if not billions of pounds being spent to manage the traffic network. And the trains are not much better (trust me I know).

Perhaps if e-motorcycles and motorcycles were viewed as more of a solution rather than a nuisance then the city could move more freely - with cleaner air for our children to breathe. 

Back to reality then. Of course, electric motorcycle taxis would have to have a demand in London first, and will ‘developing’ world technical solution work in the ‘developed’ world? 

Chuck in what you think in the comments below.