Tauranga-based electric motorcycle maker Ubco has unveiled its 2020 range, and revealed it has raised a total of around $5.2 million from new investors.
Ubco, founded in 2014, says it has now sold more than 1000 of its whisper-quiet electric motorbikes worldwide via a network of 100 dealers, with the US accounting for some half of its revenue.
Manufacturing is contracted, in part, to Chinese light-vehicle maker Yadea, which produces around three million light vehicles a year for various brands.
The 2019 model Ubco 2x2 dual-use model costs $7999 plus onroad costs, weighs 65kg, has a top-speed of 50km/h and can go up to 120km on a single charge (which takes six to eight hours).
Domino's, which purchased three of Ubco's near-silent motorbikes for a New Zealand delivery trial, has been one of the startup's marquee customers this year, helping it to push annual revenue to around the $3m mark.
Ubco chief executive Timothy Allan told the Herald that after Domino's head office buying three of his company's 2x2 bikes for a trial, a finance deal has been put in place for franchisees, who have bought around 20 bikes so far.
With no petrol costs and fewer repairs and servicing required than a regular motorbike (for there are far fewer moving parts) reliability, Allan maintains an Ubco will pay for itself in two years if a deliverer is clocking around 20,000km per year. It depends on your power plan, but most will be able to recharge an Ubco for less than $1.
Ubco will release an offroad trial bike, the FRX1 next year for $9499.
The FRX1 weighs 52kg, has a top speed of 80km/h and has a range of up to 100km on a single charge.
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And around May, we'll see a refresh of the 2x2 line, with the road-registerable 2x2ADV (which will be priced around $7999 in line with its predecessor) and the offroad-only 2x2WK - which Allan says "is a stripped-down bike that takes us back to our roots".
Ubco also revealed this week that it has raised new US$2.2m from venture capital firm GD1, which has taken a 15 per cent stake.
The raise came on top of a recent Snowball crowdfunded equity raise that saw 237 small investors put a $2.5m into Ubco for a collective 14 per cent stake via Snowball Nominees.
Ubco previously raised $3.95m in 2017.
Allan says the new funds will be used, in part, to buyout the company's US subsidiary UBCO US LLC, founded when father-and son technology entrepreneurs Bob and Ethan Ralston joined UBCO in 2017, investing US$1m into the business along with and Spring Capital Group based in Eugene, Oregon.
The Ralstons opened doors, helping Ubco establish a dealer network in North America. Now, Allan says, the ownership needs to be streamlined, which he sees as a precursor to a major raise involving US investors. The younger Ralston will remain head of Ubco's US operation.
Allan says his company's custom-designed battery is one of its key advantages. It can be removed from one of Ubco's electric bikes or used in situ to charge the likes of power tools. Allan sees that feature, plus the bikes' near-silent engines, as a boon for farmers.
The KXH Portable Power System, as the latest battery is known, can also be used to charge your iPhone. It's also hot-swappable, meaning a spare battery will extend your bike's range.
"Over time we envisage the portable power being a business unit. We see it being a significant part of the business moving forward," Allan told the Herald.
A quad bike is also in the offing.
Looking ahead, Ubco's primary focus will continue to be on the North American market.
"There is a fleet of 10 million Utility Vehicles in the US," Allan says.
"Electrifying this fleet presents a significant opportunity for the brand that can successfully commercialise the platform to lead this revolution," he said.
In global automotive terms, Ubco is a minnow. And with traditional motorcycle makers like Ducati and Harley-Davidson releasing electric models, and specialist startups like California's Zero in the fray, Ubco is just one of many contenders. But it's cheaper than the competition, and its offroad focus and multi-use battery it out.
But while Ubco's initial focus was firmly on farms, "this has quickly grown to include commercial fleets for postal services, tourism, conservation, civic service operations and delivery operations", Allan says.
As the shift to EVs shakes up the light-vehicle market, the Ubco boss says his Bay of Plenty startup has a shot at being a world leader.