BODAWERK: “E-mobility is a trend; it is not a choice”

Electric motorcycle company, BODAWERK, have developed lithium-ion batteries to transform the industry and help other companies to become successful.

Ugandan start-up, BODAWERK, have developed lithium-ion batteries to be used in East-Africa’s most common mode of transport: the motorcycle. Known in Uganda as the ‘Boda Boda’, they are used for transporting goods, people and as a recreational activity. This young start-up is currently looking for innovative solutions and improvements to the Boda Boda. 

BODAWERK aims to introduce sustainable growth into its business model. Through the development of their lithium-ion batteries, the company want to maintain and operate the most comprehensive mobility rental platform in the region, changing Uganda’s Boda Boda industry for good. 

BODAWERK’s CEO, Jakob Hornbach, spoke to CleanTech News about how he hopes to have a successful company, stating it will be down to their core values. 

Our number one value is responsibility,” he said. “Our second value is teamwork because we believe little can be achieved alone. Value number three is equality. If we work together, everyone is responsible and we respect our differences then we will be successful as a company.”

As the Boda Boda is the main mode of transport in East-Africa, Hornbach said this shows the “significance of the Boda Boda in our [the Ugandan] economy” and they chose to develop a sustainable Boda Boda because “the impact will be great [on the environment]”.

Innovative solutions to kick-start the company

Hornbach told CleanTech News that the goal that underpins BODAWERK’s operations is the eradication of poverty, stating “we want to offer e-mobility at half of what people are currently spending”.

Explaining that it costs around $5-$6 a day for a Boda Boda driver to run their motorcycle, BODAWERK wants to offer it at $2.50 per day, which Hornbach says “translates in the average Boda Boda driver doubling his income.”

BODAWERK: “E-mobility is a trend; it is not a choice” CleanTech News
Jakob Hornbach – Image courtesy of Bodawerk

Striving to manufacture their products locally, BODAWERK are on a mission to empower the Ugandan workforce to take on increasingly larger and manufacturing and assembly challenges in Uganda. Hornbach told us that BODAWERK “are training the youths of Uganda here in future technology, lithium-ion battery technology and e-mobility,” demonstrating their commitment in practice.

Hoping to become the first mass lithium-ion production site in Africa, Hornbach then explained how they develop their technology.

“We take 208 lithium-ion cells and we make a battery pack out of them. We then add a battery management system that is super intelligent, has as many sensors as a lab, it has GPS it has communication and it has internet connection. It is the battery of the future.”

Taking their sustainability focus one step further, BODAWERK also has a battery recycling system. After issues with acquiring lithium-ion cells, which they need in their battery production, the company searched for innovative ways to start their Boda Boda production right away. BODAWERK turned to recycling laptop batteries to power their motorcycles, finding an innovative solution to prevent manufacturing delays. 

Hornbach said of the project: “right now we are recycling more than 45,000 laptop batteries, that’s where we’re getting our cells from. Our first motorcycles were running on recycled laptop batteries. We drove thousands of kilometres on them.”

What’s in store for the future of the electric motorcycle?

When discussing the importance of e-mobility in Uganda, Hornbach said: “In the next 10-15 years we will see the entire transport sector shift 90% to e-mobility. E-mobility is a trend; it is not a choice”. 

Hornbach also explained the decision Uganda has to make to be part of the e-mobility industry: “E-mobility is important for our planet, for climate change. It is important for our air quality in Kampala. The choice that Uganda can make is whether they want to be part of the value chain or they can import everything from China”.

The Ugandan start-up is already pushing sustainable transport in the region through their innovative technology and impressive battery recycling scheme. However, their mission for the future, as explained by Hornbach, is equally as impressive. 

“We want to give all the technology that we have developed over the last two years cheaply to any e-mobility start up around the world. That includes the electric conversion of motorcycles, that includes our superior battery electronics. We will include software management programmes. The ultimate vision is that we will give start-ups all over the world the right technology and operational tools to be successful.”

Catherine Gray

Catherine Gray is a Senior Writer at CleanTech News, eager to be part of the important discussion around clean technological advances, promoting and celebrating the things that can be achieved. Catherine is particularly interested in how writing can have an impact on people’s lives and hopes to make her own mark in the CleanTech community through championing new innovative technologies. With huge admiration for companies and individuals with the dedication to make positive advances towards a carbon net-zero future and an advocate for sustainably in day to day life, Catherine looks forward to being actively involved in the CleanTech community.