Electric motorcycles: Voltz opens factory to produce 7x more
- May 31, 2022
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In a warehouse of more than 12 thousand square meters, here in the heart of the Free Zone, engineer Adelino Cardoso displays his new machinery like a child shows a new toy.
On one side, a conveyor belt through which the parts pass and the motorcycles are assembled; in another corner, a device that stamps the serial number on the chassis; further on, a system that tests the aesthetic quality, acceleration and braking of motorcycles.
Adelino is giving a small group of reporters a tour of Voltz’s new electric motorcycle factory — the first of its kind in Brazil and a milestone for a startup founded just four years ago.
“We have lines [de montagem] for two bikes, the EV1 Sport and the EVS, and we are already in the process of quoting and purchasing a third line for our tricycle,” said Adelino, who traded more than ten years leading the Harley-Davidson factory in Manaus for the excitement thrilling experience of creating a new market with Voltz.
A good part of the team at the head of the new factory has the same background: engineers and technicians who have made a career in combustion, working in major automakers in the sector.
This profile brings an advantage, guarantees Adelino.
“We were able to bring together a lot of things from the combustion engine factories, bringing together the best of both worlds,” he said. “When the Chinese came here, they were surprised by some of the equipment we had that they didn’t have there.”
Until now, Voltz imported 100% of its parts from China and only did the final assembly of the motorcycles at its headquarters in Pernambuco. Now, it will still import part of the parts, but it will start to nationalize some components, a requirement to have the tax benefits of the Free Zone.
The construction of the new factory is the result of an investment of R$ 12 million, financed by a R$ 100 million round that Voltz made with Creditas and Grupo Ultra a year ago.
This round is also financing the opening of new dealerships in São Paulo and Recife, and the creation of the so-called Voltz Stations — battery exchange points that will allow the company to sell motorcycles in a subscription model: the customer buys the motorcycle, but the battery is leased from Voltz.
The Manaus plant positions the company for the biggest leap in scale since it was founded in Recife by Renato Villar, a former spare parts salesman.
When fully loaded, this factory will multiply Voltz’s production by seven — reaching 15,000 motorcycles per month and bringing the startup’s production closer to that of large, already consolidated automakers.
For comparison, Yamaha produces 200,000 motorcycles a year in Brazil (or 18,000 a month).
The escalation will be gradual: Voltz will gradually increase production until reaching 15,000/month when demand justifies it. For this year, the expectation is to manufacture 50,000 motorcycles — the equivalent of 4,100 per month.
The new factory will also help solve a serious problem that Voltz has been facing: the revolt of some customers, who have not been able to receive their bikes due to lack of production capacity.
Voltz has stopped closing new sales in recent months and has formed a queue. When buying a motorcycle on e-commerce or at dealerships, customers have received a password and can only actually make the payment when their turn arrives.
Manoel Fonseca, partner and CMO at Voltz, said that the expectation is to eliminate the waiting list by October, when the company already wants to start selling with prompt delivery (with the bike arriving at the customer’s door in 7 days).
The new factory will start operating next week with two production lines: one for the EV1 Sport (the scooter); and one for the EVS (the street model). A third line will soon go into operation for Miles — an electric tricycle designed to make the last mile of large companies. Ultragaz, for example, has already purchased 500 of these tricycles to deliver gas cylinders.
Voltz is also developing five other motorcycle models, including a racing and a trail bike, as well as an app that connects to the bike and brings various features to the driver, such as turning the bike on and off and tracking its location.
But the apple of Manoel’s eye is the ADAS system — basically a series of cameras and sensors that will make the bike more secure.
This system – similar to what Tesla uses in its autonomous cars and still being developed by the startup – will be able to map the entire surroundings of the motorcycle and identify, for example, when it is in a blind spot.
Manoel’s dream: “to create the safest motorcycle in the world”.
Source: Brazil Journal