OEM Update: UBCO

This rough-and-tumble motorbike brand is looking to shake up the American market.

The talk of the automotive industry lately seems to be the rise of electric vehicles (EVs). There’s a constant stream of news about which manufacturers are releasing what electric models and how long it will take for their entire vehicle line to go all-electric.

The EV craze has infected the powersports market as well, and with the pandemic pushing more and more consumers into the marketplace, the demand for EVs has risen with it. As a result, some of the biggest news to come from the show floor at the 2022 AIMExpo was the addition of several e-mobility vehicles to Tucker Powersports’ line.

Of those, one of the headline brands was UBCO, the electric, two-wheel-drive, off-road electric adventure motorcycle birthed in Tauranga, New Zealand. According to Phil Harrison, chief strategy officer for UBCO, this new partnership will enable UBCO to expand its dealership footprint in the U.S. at a heretofore unprecedented rate while also helping Tucker reach that growing segment of riders looking for e-powered, off-road adventures.

Kiwi Crashers

After spending 10 years in the electric bike industry, Daryl Neal and Anthony Clyde, the founders of UBCO, saw a gap in the market for a new category of product. In 2014, they came up with the concept of an electric, two-wheel-drive, lightweight utility vehicle. That design eventually evolved into the versatile, off-road electric adventure motorcycle available today. UBCO bikes were made to tackle the varied and radical terrains of New Zealand for both work and play. In doing so, the company managed to win over some of the toughest of critics: New Zealand farmers.

Since then, UBCO has upgraded its bikes with clever, new software technology. It’s even manufactured models that meet road standards, thus moving these bikes from the utility vehicle to the electric adventure vehicle (EAV) platform. Now, they’re spreading across the world, making their way into the U.S., Europe and Australia. These road-registerable bikes will be sold in three different ways, making it easy for any consumer to access them: online, direct to customers (with an easy delivery and setup option right at the front door) and through a network of powersports dealers.

The deal with Tucker made it clear that UBCO is now focused on expanding into the U.S., and according to Harrison, “poised to disrupt the $50 billion-plus powersports market by expanding to a much wider user base.” By honing in specifically on the U.S. outdoor and recreation market, UBCO aims to provide innovative EAVs that are tough, lightweight, quiet, sustainable, and safe to use, thus reducing the barrier to EV adoption and spurring the creation of the largest off-road vehicle market ever.

The Case for EVs

As much as EVs are taking the world by storm nowadays, there are still many dealers and consumers alike reluctant to hop on board the “craze”-y train. Understandably, as with any new technology, there are concerns with performance and reliability. One of the most longstanding issues with EVs has been how long vehicles can go on a charge and the availability of charging stations. However, Harrison assures that EVs are no longer just for early adopters.

“The electric revolution is truly here,” he states. “Range and battery life are improving rapidly; for example, UBCO’s flagship vehicle, the 2X2, can deliver well in excess of 50 miles of range on a single charge — perfect for backcountry exploring, commuting or just grabbing a coffee downtown.”


Harrison also argues that EVs are clean, light, easy to maintain and easy to ride. In addition to battery technology and improved range, EVs also deliver more torque and acceleration, adding an extra thrill to the ride. In addition, taking out the internal combustion engine components means there’s more room for extras.

“The build complexity associated with an electric vehicle is much simpler; therefore, you have much more space and flexibility to add different components around the frame, depending on your intended use – surfboard or fishing racks, for example,” Harrison explains.

Even so, he notes, there’s really only one way you can truly approach a dealer or customer who is hesitant about EVs. Thankfully, no researched arguments or selling tactics are involved.

“Our strategy is simple: ‘bums on seats,’” Harrison proclaims. “Until you’ve experienced an electric vehicle, it’s hard to contextualize and difficult to compare with internal combustion. We’d always encourage a customer or new dealer that’s hesitant to jump on the 2X2 before committing.”

Sights Set on the U.S.

There’s no big secret as to why UBCO is targeting the U.S. market.

“There is a huge and fast-growing demand for UBCO’s vehicles in the outdoor and recreation market, particularly in the U.S., so that’s where we are focusing the majority of our efforts. These efforts center on the adventure segment, whether that’s RVing, camping, hunting, fishing or overlanding; the UBCO 2X2 is a perfect fit,” Harrison says.

In 2021, the company raised close to $30 million USD over two rounds of funding from existing investors and is making ongoing investments in this market. For instance, the company plans to double its headcount over the next 12 months, particularly in product and technology, operations and supply chain, and sales and marketing. Furthermore, UBCO’s growth this year will be enhanced by new product releases.


Of course, the bikes have a diverse range of uses beyond just outdoor adventuring. After all, if New Zealand farmers can use it, why can’t U.S. farmers? In addition, Harrison notes, UBCO also has a subscription fleet with Domino’s Pizza in New Zealand, delivering pizzas every single day, rain or shine, and doing over 20,000 miles per year.

“We cut our teeth in the harshest New Zealand environments with some of the most demanding customers, and our products carry this toughness throughout their DNA. From these foundations, we’ve invested heavily into software and firmware to create an immersive rider experience that’s highly customizable,” he explains.

Coming soon, UBCO will offer scalable, efficient test rides on a local basis and a thoughtful strategy for rideshare and last-mile delivery. Of course, for all of UBCO’s current success, there have been plenty of bumps along the way, but like their bikes themselves, UBCO’s team is equipped to handle this tough terrain.

“We’re an electric vehicle startup, so there’s no shortage of challenges, particularly given recent and persistent supply chain challenges, so I’d say delivering over 3,000 vehicles (and counting) to customers is an incredible achievement and success for an early-stage company. Conversely, navigating supply chain challenges through a global pandemic doesn’t come with a user manual,” Harrison concludes.

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