TEMBO: Electrifying Utility Vehicles One Commercial Fleet at a Time

TEMBO: Electrifying Utility Vehicles One Commercial Fleet at a Time

By Erika Masako Welch, 29 September 2023

As the world shifts towards renewable energy sources, the transport industry is moving faster than ever. A key player leading the electrification wave of the utility and commercial vehicle space is Tembo. 

From its origin in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Tembo has emerged as a frontrunner in the EV revolution, particularly as it's spearheading the race to electrify commercial utility vehicles – and addressing the largely unmet needs of utility vehicle fleet owners heavy industry players around the world. 

Established in 2018, Tembo is an EV conversion business with a primary focus on off-road utility vehicle applications. The family business that established Tembo had been a long-time provider of non-electric ruggedization and customization services working across heavy-duty sectors such as mining, infrastructure, utilities, government services, safari outfits and wildlife conservation efforts, as well as humanitarian aid. In 2018, the family launched the Tembo EV conversion business to meet the needs of a growing number of their clientele asking about electrification of their commercial fleets. 

Tembo's Role in VivoPower's Portfolio of Sustainable Companies

In early 2021, Tembo was wholly acquired by VivoPower, a NASDAQ listed B-Corp certified company recognized as one of the top 150 impact companies globally for the past 3 years by the prestigious Real Leaders Impact Awards. VivoPower are focused on delivering the triple bottom line promise of creating value for all stakeholders, including people, planet and profit. VivoPower invests in sustainable solutions around the world to help customers and the planet at large. Tembo is a crucial part of VivoPower’s broader sustainable energy solutions (SES) offering for utility vehicle fleet owners. SES is a holistic one-stop-shop solution that encompasses not just fleet electrification, but also charging solutions, training, battery storage, second life applications, and battery reuse.

Since the acquisition, Tembo has been rapidly and radically transformed into a global business, with the additional investment from VivoPower enabling an upscaling of the engineering, quality, safety systems, and processes of Tembo. They've recruited top-tier talent with 100+ years of collective electric vehicle experience from Tesla, Toyota, and Rivian, amongst others, as well as established partnerships around the world. 

Addressing the Lucrative Market of EV Conversions

It is estimated that the total addressable market (TAM) for EV conversions of new and existing utility vehicles stands at an estimated US $88 billion annually. 

Tembo's innovative approach revolves around the conversion of existing light utility vehicle fleets to electric rather than manufacturing new electric vehicles, which is the typical focus of traditional EV competitors. It’s an up-cycling and re-cycling philosophy that truly envisions a future world that embraces the circular economy, rather than the current “throw-out the old, and in with the new” approach. Their business model is uniquely designed for a large niche segment, namely off-road and ruggedized on-road utility vehicles with fixed or semi fixed payloads. The engineering that goes into these conversions are state-of-the-art, particularly because a battery-powered vehicle usually does not perform as effectively as it does on a straight and smooth road. 

Complementing, Not Competing, with OEMs

Kevin Chin, Chairman at VivoPower, notes that Tembo isn't seeking to usurp the OEM's market, but rather augment it. “The OEMs have done a great job in building utility vehicles into what they are today, which is exceptionally durable, so much so that most utility vehicles have 2nd and 3rd lives, with an average useful life of 12 to 15 years. Tembo’s mission is to help utility vehicle fleet owners extend the useful lives of such assets with a markedly lower carbon footprint through electrification solutions. In doing so, we also help to perpetuate the brand equity for the OEMs”

Kevin Chin, Chairman at VivoPower and Tembo

Photo: Kevin Chin, Chairman at VivoPower

Expanding Vehicle Portfolio: Electrifying the Iconic Jeepney

Despite Tembo currently only focusing on Toyota Landcruisers and Hilux vehicles, its product roadmap also includes conversion kits for other vehicles in the same category, including Isuzu D-Max, Nissan Patrol, Ford Rangers, Mitsubishi Tritons and others – which the company expects to add in the next 18 months. Most recently, Tembo signed a deal with Francisco Motors, to electrify the iconic Jeepney – the famed commuters mode of transport in the Philippines – which are modelled on utility vehicle chassis (see Photo). 

Jeepney, the famed commuters mode of transport in the Philippines

Photo: Jeepney, the famed commuters mode of transport in the Philippines

The Philippines government has mandated the modernization of the very aged jeepney stock in the country, which contributes to 15% of the emissions in the country. The revitalized electrified Jeepneys that preserve the traditional look and feel of the original Jeepneys, while being powered by Tembo are expected to be back on its commuter routes in 2024. It is estimated that there are up to 270,000 Jeepneys on the road in the Philippines today, accounting for 40% of all motorized person trips in the country - an estimated 40 million person trips per day.

Over 13,000+ EV Conversion Kits

Currently, Tembo's signed order book and commitments pipeline exceed 13,000+ EV conversion kits, worth over US $1 billion based on today's prices. These will be delivered over the next three to five years. 

Tembo’s Head of Partnerships, Matthew Nestor, was also quick to note that these 13,000+ orders and commitments were secured with a salesforce of 1.5 people. “We know from the extent of inbound inquiries that there is significantly more appetite from utility vehicle fleet owners around the world,” he said. 

Matthew Nestor, Head of Partnerships at Tembo

Photo: Matthew Nestor, Head of Partnerships at Tembo

Addressing the Global Challenge of Transport Emissions

When it comes to sustainability and the reduction of GHG emissions, Tembo is making a significant impact. According to Santiago Tenorio, Executive Director for IMEA at VivoPower’s major shareholder, Arowana, “Tembo estimates that the total emissions reduction per Tembo vehicle equates to approximately 46 metric tons of CO2 reduction during its conservative 7 year lifespan. That’s an estimated CO2 reduction of 2.3 million metric tons for 50,000 vehicles before you factor in CO2 reductions from second-life battery applications like energy storage systems (BESS).” That’s an important and much needed improvement today, while the world’s global CO2 emissions from the transport sector continue to grow at an alarming rate. 

Related: Arowana is betting big on renewable energy powered cryptocurrency mining

Net Zero Targets in Heavy Industries

The International Energy Agency posits that the transport industry has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of any sector, accounting for 37% of CO2 emissions from end-use sectors in 2021. Since the 1970’s, transportation emissions have almost tripled, with little signs towards abatement any time soon. Though EV’s have finally started to reduce and slow CO2 emissions from Passenger Vehicles, as the chart on the previous page suggests, Medium-trucks, Heavy-trucks, Buses, Minibuses, and light commercial vehicles collectively contribute the other lion’s share of emissions from the transport industry; these commercial and heavy-duty vehicles account for over 35% of the world’s transport emissions. 

Graph: 2070 Forecast of Global CO2 Emissions in Transport by Mode (2020)

Graph: 2070 Forecast of Global CO2 Emissions in Transport by Mode (2020)

Net zero targets are being set by countries around the world; but just as importantly, major corporations with large-scale fleets and operations around the world are also making public net zero commitments. One such heavy industry that is making these commitments is the mining sector. All major mining companies have all made public net zero or other significant GHG emission reduction pledges (see table for more info).

Major Mining Companies’ Net Zero and Decarbonization Targets:

Anglo American

Net-zero by 2040, ten years earlier than the ICMM target. The company aims to reducce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and by 50% by 2040.


Net-zero by 2050 or sooner. The company aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and by 50% by 2050.

Fortescue Metals

Net-zero by 2040, ten years earlier than the ICMM target. The company aims to reducce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and by 100% by 2040. 


Net-zero by 2050 or sooner. The company aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and by 70% by 2040.


Net-zero by 2050 or sooner. The company aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. 

Rio Tinto

Net-zero by 2050. The company aims to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 15% by 2025 and by 50% by 2030.

The Need for Industrialized Conversion Solutions

Chin remarked, "These Net Zero targets are not achievable by 2050 even if all new cars sold are electric from today onwards." To that end, Akiyo Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Corporation himself, said, "We cannot achieve zero carbon emissions in 2050 simply by switching all new cars sales to EVs. It is important to provide options for beloved cars that are already owned." Chin explains that there also needs to be an industrialized conversion industry that can repower existing vehicles at scale in a safe and sustainable manner. "We, at VivoPower and Tembo, are very conscious that the decarbonization solution needs to be not just environmentally green but also economically green, meaning it helps to reduce operating costs and improve total cost of ownership for vehicle fleet owners.” 

Building a Network of Distribution and Integration Partners

Since being acquired by VivoPower, Tembo has been feverishly extending its reach to over 50 countries over the past two years, now serving markets such as Canada, India, South Africa, Ireland, Sweden, Turkey, and Australia. Through its network of distribution and integration partners worldwide, Tembo is able to market its EV conversion solutions to various end-customers. These partners handle the conversion of customer fleets of new or second-hand light utility vehicles, using the EV conversion kits produced by Tembo. 

With an order book of 13,000+ EV conversion kits for the next five years, Tembo's primary objective is to fulfil these orders in a safe, sustainable manner without compromising quality and reliability. “This is very important as our customers ultimately need to have a solution that is as safe and reliable as their existing fleets,” says Nestor. He continues, “Tembo’s global footprint and partner network in different markets and regions enables us to provide local support, which is very important for our clients. We are continually expanding our partner ecosystem and aim to provide our solutions in even more countries to meet the growing demand for electrified fleets.”

Graph: TEMBO's Kits Orders & Commitment Pipeline

Graph: Kits Orders & Commitment Pipeline

Expanding Facilities in the United Arab Emirates

Tembo is also working with local partners to set up assembly and manufacturing facilities in the United Arab Emirates to service the GCC, Africa and Indian markets, and Southeast Asia to cater to the growing demand from markets in Asia Pacific, including Australia. Tembo also has a signed MoU with Al Taif, a subsidiary of EDGE Group, which is the UAE's leading provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for military equipment. The partnership is currently undergoing feasibility studies which look to formalize the partnership in the distribution of Tembo EV conversion kits, R&D, training in electric mobility and high voltage, as well as a local assembly operation in the UAE. 

Related: VivoPower’s Tembo unit announces collaboration with EDGE Group’s AL TAIF

Meeting Companies' Net-Zero Goals

VivoPower’s Chairman tells us that companies and organizations across the world approach Tembo due to their commitment to achieving net-zero goals, but are ultimately seeking out options where there is no concessions made on performance. Chin says, “Companies continue to come to us because we do not seek to sell a hardware kit, but we aim to provide a holistic electrification solution.” Evolution is one of the leading traffic management companies in Australia and New Zealand who have also joined the bandwagon of Tembo enthused customers. Evolution has recently committed to a fleet electrification and repowering partnership with Tembo, marking the first time an existing fleet in Australia and New Zealand will be repowered. 

Ambitions in the B2C Retail Off-Road Market

The next major step for Tembo is scaling up the assembly and production of their next-gen EUV23 conversion kits by expanding assembly and production facilities outside of the Netherlands. Tembo also has horizontal market growth ambitions. While the company’s strategy currently focuses on servicing the B2B2C and B2B markets, they are also considering servicing the B2C retail market to address the large and growing global off-road recreational market.

Chin remarks, "we are aware that the recreational off-road market is very large and growing globally... Indeed, one of our strategic goals is to become the aftermarket electrification solutions company of choice for the B2C retail off-road market as well." 

Ambitious. That would be one word to describe Tembo today. There’s no question that Tembo's innovative approach and broad market applicability coupled with their commitment to providing comprehensive solutions sets them apart in the EV conversion space. They are not just a company selling conversion kits, but a holistic solutions provider aiming to drive the transition to electric mobility and contribute to a greener, sustainable future.

Infographic: TEMBO’s Key Milestones

Infographic: TEMBO’s Key Milestones

To read more about the state of the electric vehicles revolution in 2023 – read the full report here

Quote by Kevin Chin, Chairman at VivoPower


Related Report

The State of the Electric Vehicle Revolution 2023

Global electric vehicle (EV) stock has surpassed 30 million, and China is home to over half of all the EVs on the world’s roads. 1 in 7 new cars sold last year was electric, and by 2030, we will have 138 Million EVs.