While established motor vehicle manufacturers are setting up camp in Kenya, Mobius Motors is seeking to take a share of the pie in the lucrative sector.
Mobius Motors designs, manufactures and sells vehicles built specifically for the African mass market.
Their Mobius II was conceived by reimagining the vehicle around the needs of the African consumer – common road terrain, typical vehicle loading, and average income levels.
These important factors in the development of the vehicle resulted in an SUV with the durability required to handle rural roads and sold at the price of a used sedan.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Mobius Motors is seeking to shake the auto market by producing vehicles that will meet the needs of the target market.
Presently, the majority of automotive customers buy used imports, most of which are expensive and ill-suited for the wide range of driving conditions found locally.
Mobius promises an exciting alternative – a new SUV suitable for a wide range of terrains, including rough rural roads, and designed for typical cargo loading.
In addition to local consumers, Mobius II is also well-suited for business use, providing a robust platform for local entrepreneurs and their transport needs.
In January this year, Mobius Motors closed its Series A equity round where the lead investor in this round, Pan-African Investment Company, was joined by other investors including Playfair Capital, VestedWorld, Lenana Capital Limited, Chandaria Industries, AngelList, and TechStars.
Mobius used the capital to accelerate its manufacturing setup and growth strategy.
In April this year, Mobius announced the launch of its new production facility in Nairobi to provide Mobius with end-to-end production capabilities that include fabrication of the vehicle frame, anti-corrosion treatment, painting, general assembly, plus final inspection and quality testing.
The new Mobius II, for which the company has already generated significant pre-order demand, will be manufactured in the facility.
In addition, the facility expands Mobius Motors’ research and development space, supporting the technical team’s work in developing future vehicles. Financing for the factory is provided by equity investors and a loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the development finance institution of the United States.
Mobius founder and CEO Joel Jackson says, “We believe that the growth of manufacturing will be a vital part of Kenya’s industrialisation story over the next decade and beyond, and Mobius will play a key role in realising this vision. With our first-generation model, we proved that a car could be designed, developed, and built here. As we prepare to launch our new Mobius II model, the next stage in our evolution is to establish our own production capability.”
Former Safaricom CEO and a Series A investor Michael Joseph explained why the car is compelling generating significant pre-order sales: “Mobius has designed a tough car that is perfect for a wide range of terrains and affordable and accessible to a wide swathe of the market. Between a new Mobius and an old, hand-me-down car from somewhere else, the right choice is obvious to customers. I believe that this car is just perfect for the Kenyan environment.”
In addition to offering the right product, the company’s commitment to local design, development, and production is a key element of its business model.
Federico Pirzio-Biroli, the founding partner of Playfair Capital and an early investor in Mobius Motors, described the opportunity represented by the investment: “Mobius is a fantastic example of ‘Africa 2.0’ – businesses that provide critical products and are playing a key role in the region’s industrialisation. Our continued commitment to the company reflects our excitement to realize this vision.”
Mobius I has been on Kenyan roads for quite some time and Mobius II is eagerly awaited as Kenyans seek more mobility without limitations.
Already, Volkswagen has inaugurated an automotive production site in Kenya as it regionalizes its worldwide automotive business.
The company’s first locally produced Polo Vivo has already rolled from the production line.
Kenya was the third country after South and North Africa in Volkswagen’s expansion strategy as the push for Africa’s roads continues.