E-bike com­pany moves to get mo­torists out of a jam

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHINA DAILY

For many Bei­jing res­i­dents, traf­fic jams are a night­mare that oc­cur ev­ery day. Yet, for Nathan Siy, the prob­lem has huge profit po­ten­tial for his elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cle busi­ness.

Siy, a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can who came to Bei­jing in 2006, es­tab­lished his com­pany last year in Zhong­guan­cun, a hub of In­ter­net com­pa­nies in the cap­i­tal city, to make and sell e-mo­tor­cy­cles.

In dis­cussing why he es­tab­lished the com­pany, Siy said he used to be fre­quently an­noyed by the traf­fic con­ges­tion in Bei­jing un­til he bought an elec­tric scooter in 2007.

“It was so con­ve­nient, cool and en­vi­ron­ment-friendly. It took me around to un­der­stand more about the cul­ture and the peo­ple here.”

Nam­ing the com­pany Evoke, Siy said he hopes to “evoke” new lifestyles, con­vinc­ing peo­ple to change the way they com­mute. The first two letters of Evoke stand for “elec­tric ve­hi­cles”, he added.

Siy’s idea of mak­ing e-mo­tor­cy­cles has been em­braced by two of his friends — Se­bas­tian Chvobok of Ger­many and Chris Lee Rethen of the United States. The two joined Siy’s com­pany last year.

They all are op­ti­mistic about their busi­ness. “We in to­tal have 40 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in China. We know it even bet­ter than some lo­cals,” Rethen said.

“The big­gest prob­lem is the traf­fic. You can get re­ally stuck if you drive a car,” he said, adding that the high ef­fi­ciency and con­ve­nience of e-bikes is a key to ad­dress the traf­fic jams in Bei­jing.

Evoke mo­tor­cy­cles are en­tirely hand made. As Siy stud­ies elec­tronic en­gi­neer­ing and Rethen is crazy about bat­tery tech­niques, they spend most of their time in a work­shop.

“It’s so lucky that I have two com­pan­ions shar­ing the same goal and dream with me,” Siy added. “It’s cool when you ride an Evoke mo­tor­cy­cle, and it feels even cooler when you make one.” Ac­cord­ing to Siy, the new model, Evoke Sports, can go as fast as 120 km/h.

Siy said that lithium bat­ter­ies are ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing such high speeds with their de­sign. Evoke mo­tor­cy­cles leave the en­tire space un­der the seat for the bat­tery, which can last for more than 150 kilo­me­ters af­ter a full charge.

“We ad­justed the ac­cel­er­a­tion, so that peo­ple can ad­just the speed freely to what they are used to,” said Siy. “Peo­ple can choose a com­fort­able speed. For the be­gin­ners, maybe 60 km/h, and for the mo­tor­cy­cle lovers, maybe over 100.” In ad­di­tion, seats are de­signed to be lower, and bat­ter­ies and mo­tor­cy­cle bod­ies are de­signed lighter. Siy said it’s “the way de­signed for Asians”, tak­ing safety as the main con­cern.

There are two prob­lems that need solv­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cles in China, ac­cord­ing to Siy. The first is that charg­ing is not con­ve­nient enough, and the other is that traf­fic reg­u­la­tions for elec­tric ve­hi­cles are not clear enough.

One of the things Siy and his col­leagues are do­ing is to talk to con­ve­nience stores about mak­ing charg­ing sta­tions avail­able for e-riders.

“It’s a win-win thing. Riders pay stores, and stores pro­vide them with elec­tric­ity,” Siy said, adding that he be­lieves that more and more charg­ing sta­tions will be built in the near fu­ture.

As for reg­u­la­tion, Siy said there are no li­cense plates for elec­tric scoot­ers, and li­cense plates for elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cles are hard to get. Many of the scoot­ers on the street don’t have tags.

The com­pany’s mo­tor­cy­cles aren’t cheap by lo­cal stan­dards, with the Evoke Ur­ban Se­ries run­ning 39,000-44,000 yuan ($4,200-$6,900) depend­ing on level of bat­tery. Sales are slow, but they’re con­fi­dent they will pick up.

“We are wait­ing for the reg­u­la­tions. Only when it’s clear will we know what to fol­low.”

Siy and Chvobok dis­cussed their idea with of­fi­cials, show­ing them the de­signs of the elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cle. They were pleased that the of­fi­cials showed in­ter­est in their prod­uct. “The pro­ce­dure might take long, but we’d like to wait till things change and we come into a new era of elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cles,” said Chvobok.

In Siy’s eyes, Bei­jing has a fast pace, pro­vid­ing a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties. “If you are hun­gry and young, it’s a great place to grow,” he said. Yan Dongjie con­trib­uted to this story.

YAN DONGJIE / CHINA DAILY

Nathan Siy (cen­ter) works on an Evoke mo­tor­cy­cle with friends Se­bas­tian Chvobok (left) and Chris Lee Rethen.

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