In this interview, we talk to Dominik Fries (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominik-fries-6b34a662/) the head of business development of the mobility startup Evum Motors (https://www.evum-motors.com/). Evum Motors provides electronic powered vehicles for transportation in rural Africa. The small delivery truck has a range of 100-200km, with all-wheel drive, for a payload of up to one metric ton. The solar panels on top of the drivers’ cabin can extend this range by approx. 10 km.
Learn more about our Affiliated Marketing here: https://www.startuprad.io/blog/affiliate-marketing-at-startuprad-io/
The idea of this truck was developed at Technical University Munich, together with local universities in Africa (https://www.acar.tum.de/index.php?id=5&L=0)
There are several adaptations of the model, which can be deployed for different purposes (transportation of euro pallet, cooling unit, snow cleaning, medical station, road maintenance, transportation of up to 10 people and much more).
You can pre-order here: https://www.evum-motors.com/reservierung/
The car will be available in Africa 2021 and they target Latin America as a next step.
Evum Motors is looking for investors for their Series A.
This interview is part of a series of interviews done at the Aufschwung Messe in Frankfurt, one of the large startup and entrepreneur fairs in Germany, with the backing of multiple sponsors and public institutions. You can learn more about the fair here (German only): https://www.aufschwung-messe.de/ and don’t forget the founder of the fair, Burkhard. Burkhard runs one of Germany’s most frequented and renown business blogs, where he introduces his readers to one new business model a day in German, adding up to more than 7.750 in 5.00 days (almost 14 years). Learn more here https://www.best-practice-business.de/
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Narrator: Welcome to startuprad.io your podcast and YouTube blog covering the German startup scene with news interviews and live events.
Joe: Hello and welcome everybody. This is Joe from startuprad.io, your startup podcasts and YouTube blog from Germany. As you may be able to hear in the background, the noise I’m still here at Aufschwung Messe in lovely Frankfurt in the former building of the Stock Exchange. I do have Dominik here with me who is from the startup Evum motors who is going to tell us just a tiny bit about the product and what they are doing. Welcome.
Dominik: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Joe: You’re very welcome. I’ve been skimming through your website and I’ve seen something that looks pretty much like a small SUV and something about solar. Is this approximately true?
Dominik: This is approximately true. but there’s much more about it, to be honest. Maybe I should surround the area that we’re talking about.
Dominik: Evum motors, as we are standing right here, the company was founded in August 2017 and it’s a spinoff from the Technical University of Munich. And it was designed together with 200 students, people that went to do their master thesis, did their diplomas and did their degrees at the technical university. So, after successfully coming up with a product that was designed for the African market to fulfill the needs of the people living in the rural areas of Tanzania, of Ghana, of Kenya, it was designed not only for their needs but also together with the universities in these countries of the African continent. So, what these students came up with was a multi-useable vehicle that was able to carry a ton of weight, to carry about ten people at the same time and comes along with the all-wheel drive. A vehicle that is supported by solar power so it’s independent of the current net, for example. So, independent from other power sources. So, people can fulfill different use cases for their own.
Joe: Okay. My experience with Tanzania is quite limited but I have to admit I’ve been there. They have some very nice streets, but as soon as you get off the main streets, the main tracks, basically everything becomes very fast, very shaky. It’s like “brrr”
Dominik: So true.
Joe: And sometimes we even had problems to talk with each other because the car was so noisy, and the street was so uneven and that’s the area you’re going for?
Dominik: Exactly. That’s the area we’re looking for. Those are the street conditions that we’re looking for and that the car was designed for. So, the vehicle itself really can run up to 200 kilometers depending on the only road conditions that you have out there. But we know that for maybe ten kilometers, you can take two or three hours if the road conditions are as such. We know that there are rocks on the street, there are animals that you have to avoid during a ride, there are steep falls. You have to go uphill incredibly.
Joe: Totally crazy like going up and going down. Exactly. And there is something, I call it ‘your little SUV’s’. Is that true?
Joe: Can it do that?
Dominik: It can absolutely do that. Of course, electric power is always depending on the resources. This is why we want to work together with photovoltaic techniques, photovoltaic systems that can be installed automatically in different decentral areas rurally to support the people there, so they are not depending on the net that is provided in urban regions.
Joe: One question. So that means… because I’ve seen the pictures, there’s basically a driver’s cabin and there’s a big trunk in the back and on top of this driver’s cabin, there are some solar panels. Is that the only means to charge it?
Dominik: It is absolutely not, to be honest. This shows what we are heading for. This shows that we are working together with photovoltaic system providers and that we are looking for solar power. But this will give us an extra range extent of about 10 kilometers, just the little panel that we have on the roof.
But what we have, we do support different modular pieces that you can install on the trunk of the car. And for example, this one module that is a covered module and this is all supported with solar panels which will extend your range quite faster and quite bigger.
Joe: And what other modules are we talking about? You told me that there are like two pallets. Your pallets of the typical size, you can fit anything else in the back?
Dominik: Yes. It was designed for example, for transporting up to 10 people at the same time. This is one module. Then another module that provides the perfect shape for Europe pallets. So, for a standardized system that everybody is used to. Then on the other hand. It’s made for good transport. It comes with smaller walls. If you have like big types of goods, if you have smaller types of goods. We have the high wall solution and we have the close-up solution that can make for a use case, for example, to transport cool medicine from A to B. On the other hand, it can be used as a medical station for example to transport a person that is in need and to give him medical treatment.
Joe: Like an emergency vehicle.
Dominik: Like that.
Joe: Oh, okay. I see. Do you also sell it with sirens? Flashlights? Sirens?
Dominik: This would be an extra. Of course, it’s addable. So, the whole car was designed to be most flexible so that you can add any extra that you want. If you’re into snow cleaning, you can have your snow cleaner at the front, for example. You can have another car on the back. So, you can add any extras that you want to.
Joe: I see. The thing is when I’m now looking at this and saying “oh, that’s awesome”. Where can I buy it?
Dominik: Good question. The only chance to buy it right now is to preorder. We are going to go into production in early 2020 and the first quarter of 2020. We will start producing within Germany in our Factory in Bayerbach, which is close to Lancut here in Bavaria.
Joe: Which is close to?
Dominik: Which is which is a one-hour drive north from Munich.
Joe: Ah, Munich here we go
Dominik: There you go.
Joe: So Bavarian.
Dominik: And from there we will spread our reach to the emerging countries, to countries in need that the car was designed for. We will head for Africa first, for the countries in Africa to have an African reach. And after, we’re heading for Latin America.
Joe: Just one critical question because if I have in the back of my mind.
Joe: It’s very efficient. It made for very bad conditions. It’s quality made in Germany. Isn’t it a little bit expensive for emerging markets?
Dominik: So, good question though. Thanks a lot. That gives me a chance to explain a little bit about the car and the vehicle itself. The countries that we’re coming up with right now are the countries whose needs it’s designed to equip. Firstly, for the European markets and the needs of the farmers and the hunters and all the target groups that we have in Germany. And of course, it will be equipped fully and there will be a chance to have a very equipped vehicle that would cost about 25,000 euros. And this is, of course, a European market price. The car that will be designed on the basis of this model, designed for the African market, where it comes from will be a much easier car, a much simpler car. So, for example, you’re not going to have a service steering, you’re not going to have a heating and if not needed, we won’t even provide doors in order to reduce the costs for Africa.
Joe: I see. And especially if you skip air conditioning and doors, that also reduces weight and energy consumption, which also extends the range again, right?
Dominik: Yeah. That’s true.
Dominik: So, talking about range. We will come up with an easy solution initially for our first production of 1,000 vehicles that we’re going to have in 2020. And we will provide a hundred kilometers with an easy battery pack. And the room that we have to install another battery pack allows us to go up to 200 kilometers. During our research work, we found out that in Germany, in Europe people are heading for 50 to 60 kilometers of daily use with their car, so this is what we wanted to cover, to make sure that people can do that. And for Africa, it is even less. It’s about 35 kilometers.
Joe: I see. And when will the car be available in Africa?
Dominik: We want to make the car available in Africa in 2021. So about 12 months later than the start in Germany. We will also provide some imported cars for selected use cases because we also want to gather some data from the market such as; where the car is used? Which conditions do we have? Do we need to have new collectives of weights, for example of ranges? And together with this data, we can design a more proper, more custom and country fit version of the car.
Joe: Depending on when you want to buy it in 2021, where can you actually buy it? Are there car dealerships? Are you going to have your own network like the big brand names? How do people get their hands on your car?
Dominik: Good question again. We will come up with different channels. It will be available for online purchase because of course, we are heading mostly for B2B. We know that the people that are driving the cars later might not be the people that are buying the cars, so B2B for us means that of course, someone has to get in touch with the car, wants to feel it, wants to drive it on the road. That’s where we’re going to have dealerships on the market as well. And to have the first ramp-up, we are heading for strong partnerships in different countries.
Joe: And since you are a real hardware startup, every hardware startup I’ve talked to told me hardware is hard. So how are you actually going to avoid the fate of guys like Tesla who had huge ambitious goals of turning out thousands of vehicles and only turned out like 30, 50, 100 vehicles over time?
Dominik: I’m really happy to say that our founders thought about that from the very beginning of the idea of bringing up a vehicle like that. And so, the whole vehicle was designed to be produced really easily. The design is really simple. It’s really light. We only have two-dimensional surfaces, which makes the production quite easy to learn. And also, from the machinery and tooling side, we won’t have big costs of tooling or machinery. It’s going to be easy bending machines, easy building machines. Machines that are easily handled.
Joe: That brings me to another question. Does this also make the repairs in the respective areas easier?
Dominik: Exactly. From the beginning…
Joe: Damn it. I think I’m starting to understand your concept.
Dominik: So the concept is that really, it supports the rural areas and the people living there by not only being initially cheap and there’s a certain ease to get in contact with the vehicle and ultimately buy it, but also the total cost of ownership is massively reduced to minimum and the ease of repair and servicing in the car is also included. Why is it included? As I said, the surfaces so easy so you can easily rebuild them and most of the parts you can repair and rebuild quite easily and there are not too many parts. We’re talking about 500 to 600 part that this car called consists of.
Joe: Just a few hundred pieces, which we both assumed is much less than a high-end car. Right?
Joe: Great. It was such a pleasure having you here. Before you leave, just a question. Are you looking for cooperating partners, innovation partners, distribution networks, investors or just awesome people?
Dominik: All of them. Well, the reason that I’m here with Bayern today, the reason that I came to the [inaudible 00:14:22]today to find some investors because we’re running into the A-series funding and also to have some people to support us with the process within the funding round and we’re really looking forward to making good and great partnerships trusted partnerships for people to help us roll out the car and all our processes in Africa.
Joe: Great. Good last word. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure having you here
Dominik: It was a pleasure. See you soon.
Joe: Thank you.
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