Bolt electric taxi South Africa
(Getty Images)
  • E-hailing company Bolt will introduce a new "green category" in South Africa.
  • This will allow riders to hail an electric or hybrid vehicle.
  • The move comes just months after Bolt Food launched an electric bicycle pilot for deliveries in Cape Town.
  • And just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa committed to upping electric vehicle production in South Africa.
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E-hailing company Bolt is bringing electric taxi options to South Africa, giving passengers the option to hail an electric or hybrid vehicle.

The Estonian-based on-demand transport company has expanded its South African operations over the past year. In 2020, Bolt Food – a food delivery service competing against the likes of Uber and Mr D – was launched in Cape Town. Since then, it's also launched the service in Johannesburg.

Africa's leading ride-hailing platform has also put more attention into its "Green Plan" on the continent. Intended to offset CO2 emissions and reduce the carbon footprint by using renewable forms of energy, the plan has already produced carbon-neutral operations in Europe.

The plan has also been extended to South Africa, although at a slower pace. In June, Bolt Food introduced an electric bicycle pilot for deliveries in Cape Town.

The ride-hailing firm is now going one step further by introducing a fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles to South Africa. Bolt will have a "green category" that will allow riders to select an electric or hybrid vehicle.

This category was launched in Kenya in March, with similar rates as Bolt's base category.

"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 Middle East, Paddy Partridge, told TechCrunch.

Bolt's announcement on electric taxis coming to South Africa comes just days after the country's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, committed to increasing local production of electric vehicles. It also comes amid a bout of load shedding, whereby the national power utility is forced to implement rotational power cuts due to a drastic loss of capacity.

Further afield, the move towards electric vehicles and their use by e-hailing firms has received a major boost. Rental car company Hertz recently confirmed that it would receive 100,000 Tesla vehicles by the end of 2022. Half of these cars would by used by Uber drivers in the United States.

But electric vehicle ownership in Africa, beyond challenges brought about by crippling power constraints, remains pitifully low.

"Our understanding is that the South African Government, Eskom with other stakeholders are working together to propose appropriate just transition solutions," Bolt told Business Insider South Africa.

"President Cyril Ramaphosa just this week announced a national focus on reducing carbon emissions, fast-tracking plans for a green-hydrogen economy as well as the start of production of hybrid cars. These are all important interventions to confront climate change and support overall adaptation in the urban and mobility sector."

Bolt emphasised that the adoption of electronic vehicles "across the region is still in its infancy" but added that pilot projects aimed at transition in the transport sector were promising.

"Bolt looks forward to continuing to contribute to the development of an alternative and responsive approach to climate change in the South African market," the company said.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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