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Singapore company to expand battery-share idea to rural Cambodia

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Singapore venture funded company Oyika Pte Ltd on Tuesday announced an expansion of its battery-share services to Cambodian rural communities in a bid to trim costs associated with e-motorbikes. Oyika

Singapore company to expand battery-share idea to rural Cambodia

Singapore venture funded company Oyika Pte Ltd on Tuesday announced an expansion of its battery-share services to Cambodian rural communities in a bid to trim costs associated with e-motorbikes and curb the number of traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) motorbikes in use.

Its model allows for e-motorbike riders to switch a rented depleted battery for a fully charged one at a “swap station”, providing a more affordable alternative to topping up on petrol, the company said.

Sharing e-motorbike batteries will help ease the financial burden of purchasing one, which can account for 50 per cent or more of the total cost of the vehicle, it added.

Citing Indonesia as an example, the firm said the battery-share solution can reduce the costs of e-motorbike ownership without the need for government subsidies, and provide a viable contender to subsidised petrol fuel.

“Oyika also offers battery swap bundled with its partners’ e-motorbikes on a pay-as-you-go basis for short trips, daily rents, by the week, and by the month. It is a like prepaid mobile phone plan but with a phone provided for use,” it said.

It noted that it has been working on its battery-share concept for e-motorbikes since 2018 and made its debut in the Kingdom in July last year with 10 “swap stations” across the capital.

Oyika president Carl Wong said that at launch, the company offered riders a monthly subscription plan of $69 that provided an e-motorbike and battery swap plan allowing for 1500km of travel per month.

He said: “But honestly, it didn’t go too well. Because people love their ICE motorbikes and are uncertain about e-motorbikes.

“So, we launched Go2, a ridesharing service, which is essentially a no-contract, no-down-payment, no-deposit e-motorbike on a pay-as-you-go basis. We launched it in May this year and the take-up has been so positive, we intend to increase the fleet substantially next year.

“A typical ride is about 75 cents for a self-driven 6km journey and people can pick up a bike wherever it’s available and drop it off anywhere at the end of their trip.

“Essentially, rideshare combined with battery share further reduces the barriers to e-motorbike adoption. It also exposes more people to e-motorbikes.”

Oyika said it was awarded a grant from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to expand its rideshare trial in the capital, as a “validation of its initiative and hopes to extend this to rural Cambodia”.

Wong said: “There is no public transport servicing rural communities. So, e-motorbike sharing offers affordable transport to rural communities without the cost of ownership. It also benefits women and vulnerable individuals without reliable access to personal transport.”

According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s 2019 annual report, there were more than five million registered vehicles in Cambodia.

Of these, 85 per cent were motorbikes, with e-motorbikes accounting for less than 0.1 per cent of them. Last year, 640,183 new vehicles were registered, of which 531,269 were motorbikes.

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