Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Cake has crafted the Swedish edition of electric motorcycle design starting in the dirt.

The Stockholm based mobility startup’s debut, the Kalk OR, is a 150 pound, battery powered two-wheeler engineered for agile off-road riding and available in a street-legal version.

On appearance, Cake’s Kalk has a minimalist stance and doesn’t evoke “motorcycle” in any conventional sense.

That was intentional, according to the company’s CEO, Stefan Ytterborn — a design aficionado and serial founder — who was more of a mountain biker and skier than a motorcyclist, before launching Cake with is two sons Karl and Nils.

“I wasn’t a motorcycle geek…I actually learned how to ride a motorcycle,” he explained on his foray into the business.

Ytterborn has worked in design development his entire career, leaving Sweden for Milan in his early days, developing product lines for IKEA in the ’90s and founding several design oriented companies over the years.

His last venture — outdoor sporting gear venture POC — supplied Olympic gold medalist Bode miller and the U.S. Ski Team with helmets and optics before it was acquired by Investcorp in 2015 for a reported $ 65 million.

Cake Motorcycles

Cake’s Kalk OR, Image Credits: Cake

Ytterborn’s current company shares some similarities with POC, namely creating products for natural forward motion in the outdoors.

The direction for Cake — according to its founder — was to design a motorcycle from a clean slate, harnessing the advantages of what voltage power could offer to the form.

“I was stoked by the idea of what an electric drive-train could bring,” Ytterborn told TechCrunch . “But then I started realizing nobody is really optimizing the performance of the electric drive-train. Everyone’s trying to imitate what the combustion motorcycle does,” he said.

One of the first things Ytterborn took from that view was engineering a lighter platform with a better power to weight ratio.

A distinguishing characteristic of most e-moto offerings, including the few oriented toward off-road use, is they are heavier than gas motorcycles. Even one of the lightest choices out there for street and dirt use, Zero’s FX, weighs nearly 100 pounds more than Cake’s Kalk OR.

The $ 13,000 Swedish e-motorcycle has a 2.6kWh battery, charges to 80% in an hour and a half using a standard outlet, and offers up to three-hours of off road ride time, according to Cake. The Kalk has 30 ft-lbs of torque and a top speed of 50 miles per hour.

The street legal version, the Kalk&, has similar specs with a mixed city/highway range of 53 miles. Both have capability for quick battery swaps and a second battery goes for $ 3,000.

Cake introduced an additional model in 2020, the $ 8,500 Ösa+, which the company characterizes as an urban utility moped with off-road capabilities.

Cake’s Ösa+, Image Credits: Cake

As a startup, Cake has raised $ 20 million in VC, including a $ 14 million Series A financing round led by e.ventures and Creandum in 2019.

The U.S. is a prime market for the company. Cake has a subsidiary in Park City, Utah, a U.S. representative — Zach Clayton — and is poised to open a sales store in New York City this quarter. 

The company has sold 300 motorcycles in the U.S. this year and America makes up 60% of its sales market, according to its CEO.

On where the Cake fits into motorcycle market, “We’re much more Patagonia than Kawasaki,” said Ytterborn,

He described Cake as something developed for a far from static mobility world, where everything about how people move from A to B is being redefined, including the concept of the motorcycle.

That entails creating something that captures the exhilaration of riding off-road for an eco-conscious market segment, put off by the noise and fumes of gas motocross bikes.

“What really got me going was the intuition that we could flip the market upside down [with Kalk],” said Ytterborn.

Cake’s street legal Kalk&; Image Credits: Cake

“It’s silent, it doesn’t disturb, it doesn’t pollute and is the opposite of what non-motorcycle people associate with motorcycles,” he said.

The U.S. motorcycle market could use some fresh ideas, as it’s been in pretty bad shape since the last recession, particularly with young folks. New sales dropped by roughly 50% in 2008 — with sharp declines in ownership by everyone under 40 — and have never recovered.

At least one of the big gas manufactures — Harley Davidson — and several EV startups, such as Zero, are offering e-motorcycles as a way to convert gas riders to electric and attract a younger generation to motorcycling.

It’s notable that Harley Davidson acquired a youth electric scooter maker, Stacyc, in 2019 and has committed to produce e-scooters and e-mountain bikes as part of its EV pivot. The strategy is to use these platforms to create a new bridge for young people to motorcycles in the on-demand mobility world.

HD’s moves could provide some insight on where Cake might fit in that space. On one hand, the startup’s models could become premium electric motorcycles for the eco-friendly, Outside Magazine and action sports crowd. On the other, Cake could fill a new segment on the mobility product line — somewhere between e-scooters, e-bikes and traditional motorcycles.

“We want to establish a new category where people with an active lifestyle, whether they’re motorcycle people or not, can proceed with sustainability, responsibility and respect,” said CEO Stefan Ytterborn.

One challenge for this thesis could be Cake’s price and performance points compared to the competition. Zero Motorcycle’s FX, while heavier than the $ 13,000 Kalk, starts at $ 8,995 and has a top speed of 85 miles per hour.


TechCrunch

Companies around the world are shifting production lines and business models to address the needs of governments and healthcare agencies in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Two companies answering that call are Dyson and Gtech, both of which are working on ventilator hardware, leveraging their experience building vacuums and other motor-driven airflow gadgets to spin up new designs and get them validated and produced as quickly as possible.

Dyson, the globally-recognized appliance maker, is working with The Technology Partnership (TTP) on a brand new ventilator design called the CoVent. This design is meant to be made quickly at at high volumes, and leverages Dyson’s existing Digital Motor design, as well as the company’s air purification products, to deliver safe and consistent ventilation for COVID-19 patients, according to an internal email from founder James Dyson to Dyson employees and provided to TechCrunch.

Dyson was reacting to a request from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for ventilator supplies, and intends to first fulfil an order of 10,000 units o the UK Government. Its ventilator still needs to be tested and its production process approved by the government and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (the MHRA, its FDA equivalent), but Dyson says in the email that “the race is now on to get it into production.” The company notes that experts from both the UK’s national healthcare agency and the MHRA have been involved throughout its design process, which should help expedite approvals.

The CoVent meets the specifications set out by clinicians for ventilator hardware, and is both bed-mounted and portable with a battery power supply, for flexible us across a variety of settings, including during patient transportation. Because it uses a lightly modified version Dyson’s existing Digital Motor design, the company says that the fan units needed for its production are “available in very high volume.”

“I am proud of what Dyson engineers and our partners at TTP have achieved. I am eager to see this new device in production and in hospitals as soon as possible,” Dyson wrote in his email. “This is clearly a time of grave international crisis, I will therefore donate 5,000 units to the international effort, 1,000 of which will go to the United Kingdom.”

Meanwhile, Gtech, another UK home appliance and vacuum maker, has likewise done what it can to answer the government’s call for ventilator hardware. The company’s owner Nick Grey said that it received a request to build up to 30,000 ventilators in just a two-week span, which promoted them to quickly set about figuring out what went into the design of this medical hardware.

Gtech’s team developed a ventilator that can be made from parts easily made from abundant stock materials, or off-the-shelf pre-assembled parts. The company says that it can spin up production of around 100 per day within a week or two, so long as it can source steel fabrication and CNC machining suppliers.

In addition to its own production capacity, Gtech is making its ventilator designs available for free to the broader community in order to ramp production. The company says that “there’s no reason why thousands of emergency ventilators can’t be made each day” in this way, according to an interview with Grey and CTV News. Like the Dyson model, Gtech’s design will need assessment and certification from the UK government and regulators before they can be put into use.


TechCrunch

Long and short distance travel have all but stopped for many people at the moment. But looking forward to a time when that may no longer be the case, a company designing flying taxis is today announcing a large round of funding to help continue developing its product.

Lilium, a Munich-based startup that is designing and building vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft with speeds of up to 100 km/h that it plans eventually to run in its own taxi fleet, has closed a funding round of “over” $ 240 million — money that it plans to use to keep developing its aircraft, and to start building manufacturing facilities to produce more of them, for an expected launch date of 2025.

“We’re working to deliver a brand new form of emissions-free transport,” said a spokesperson. “Doing something like that takes significant time and investment, but the outcome is a valuable business and a chance to have a genuinely positive impact on the way we travel.”

This latest investment was an inside round (involving existing, not new, investors) and it closed last month. It was led by Tencent, with participation from other previous backers that included Atomico, Freigeist and LGT. The valuation is not being disclosed, but the company confirms that it is significantly higher than it was in its Series B in 2017. (For some more context, PitchBook estimates that last year the company was valued at around $ 470 million.)

The news today caps off some challenging recent months for the company, even before the Coronavirus took hold of the world and cast a dark shadow on any kind of travel.

Last October, we reported that several sources said that Lilium, which employs 400 people, was looking to raise between $ 400 million and $ 500 million, a round that it had been working on for some months. In the end, the lower amount the company is putting out today is $ 160 million less than the lower end of that range, but from what we’ve been told, this is not far from what the company was actually aiming to raise. Still, that combined with the fact that there are no new investors in the raise might imply some challenges there.

(It is, nevertheless, one of the biggest fundraises to date for a startup in the “flying vehicle” space. (Volocopter, which is also designing a new kind of flying taxi-style vehicle and service, closed a $ 94 million round in February.) Lilium has now raised more than $ 340 million to date.)

“This additional funding underscores the deep confidence our investors have in both our physical product and our business case. We’re very pleased to be able to complete an internal round with them, having benefited greatly from their support and guidance over the past few years,” said Christopher Delbrück, Lilium’s CFO, in a statement. “The new funds will enable us to take big strides towards our shared goal of delivering regional air mobility as early as 2025.”

But raising money has not been the only challenge. At the beginning of this month, the older of Lilium’s two prototypes burst into flames while some maintenance was being carried out. The model was close to being retired, but testing on the second, newer model has nonetheless been paused until the company can determine the cause of the accident with the first aircraft.

“Our second demonstrator aircraft was fortunately undamaged in the fire and will begin flight testing once we’ve understood the cause of the fire in the first aircraft,” a spokesperson said.

The market for aircraft-based taxi services — be they electric, autonomous, or both — is still very nascent. There are no approved aircraft yet on the market (indeed, the regulations for what these would even look like haven’t even been created), and, as a result, there are no services yet in place, either.

But the opportunity of building fast services that could mitigate current traffic congestion, while also reducing carbon emissions, is potentially massive, and so we are seeing a lot of activity and investment from many corners as companies hope their takes on solving that challenge are the ones to hit the mark.

Lilium’s would-be rivals include not just fellow German startup Volocopter, but also Kitty HawkeHang, Joby and Uber, in addition to Blade and Skyryse, air taxi services of sorts that offer more conventional helicopters and other vessels in limited launches for those willing to spend the money.

It’s not clear how much of this will fare in the months and years ahead, in particular at a tricky time for travel and the wider economy. But for now, Lilium’s work so far — it was founded in 2015 by Daniel Wiegand (CEO), Sebastian Born, Matthias Meiner and Patrick Nathen — has been promising enough for its investors to continue backing it for the long haul.

“At Tencent we’re committed to supporting technologies that we believe have the potential to tackle the greatest challenges facing our world,” said David Wallerstein, Chief eXploration Officer at Tencent, in a statement. “Over the last few years we’ve had the opportunity to see the professionalism and dynamism with which Lilium are approaching their mission and we’re honored to be supporting them as they take the next steps on their journey.”


TechCrunch

SpaceX is taking the steps necessary to begin test flying the orbital-class version of its Starship spacecraft, with new documents filed by the company (via Teslarati) with the FCC seeking necessary permissions for it to communicate with the prototype while it’s in flight.

The company filed documents with the U.S. regulatory agency this week in advance of the flight, which lists a max altitude of 74,000 feet, which is a far cry from Earth orbit but still a much greater distance vs. the 500 or so feet achieved by the squat ‘Starhopper’ demonstration and test vehicle that SpaceX has been actively operating in preparation for Starship .

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that prep was underway via tweet. Musk has previously said that he hoped to follow the Starhopper’s most recent and final successful test quickly with tests of the full-scale vehicle. Like with that low-altitude test, SpaceX will aim to launch and land the Starhopper, with touch down planned just a short distance away.

Assembly and construction of the Starship prototype looks to be well underway, and Musk recently teased a Starship update event for September 28, which is likely when we’ll see this prototype assembled and ready to go ahead of its planned October first test flight window.

Starship is the next generation of SpaceX spacecraft, designed for maximum reusability, and with the aim of creating one vehicle that can serve the needs of current and future customers, eventually replacing both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Starship is also a key ingredient in Musk’s ambitious plan to reach and establish a continuing human presence on Mars.


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