It has been a huge year for UBCO, New Zealand’s best loved electric utility bike manufacturer, with the company achieving a number of significant milestones both in investment, supply chain and acquisition.
Founded with a single prototype 2×2 electric farm bike in 2014, the UBCO has now sold over 1000 units globally with the U.S. sales delivering over 50% of the global revenue.
UBCO has evolved into a digitally connected electric vehicle platform with three enabling products and services; portable power, accessories and cloud-based software to provide a sticky eco-system that increases lifetime customer value.
The company delivered its fifth generation bike at their UBCON conference in Queenstown in November, along with new two new variants, new battery technology and software.
Also announced at the conference was the success of negotiations with Series A & B focused venture capital fund GD1, to invest a total of $2.12m USD into UBCO, allowing it to accelerate its already rapid growth into the US. An additional $1.56m USD was led by Snowball Effect, which comprised of wholesale and retail investors. Overall $3.51m USD has been raised to be used for expansion, customer acquisition and product development/production.
UBCO CEO Timothy Allan said that there is a strong fit with GD1’s strategic focus and goals and UBCO’s Business Plan and strategy.
“We’re delighted to have GD1 on board for the next stage of our growth,” Allan said. “GD1 has a high growth mindset and a demonstrated ability to follow on and support the company with more capital in future raises through uptake of pro rata rights, reducing future financing risk. GD1 also provides us with strong links to Taiwan and China markets which are essential for our product manufacturing.”
The GD1 investment also allows UBCO to complete the acquisition of its U.S. subsidiary UBCO US LLC, founded when father and son technology entrepreneurs, Bob and Ethan Ralston joined UBCO in 2017, investing $1million USD into the business along with and Spring Capital Group based in Eugene, Oregon.
Bob and Ethan Ralston founded, developed and successfully exited IoT company Feeney Wireless to Novatel Wireless in 2015 and they saw UBCO as an opportunity to take an important stake in a quickly evolving EV marketplace.
Both brought important skills to UBCO with Bob Ralston provided a key role as compliance director over the last two years and Ethan Ralston driving the US business in the role of CEO.
“Having their experience and knowledge available to the company has been invaluable during our launch into the U.S. market,” Allan said.
UBCO’s primary focus is the North American off-road recreation and commercial markets for both two- and four-wheel vehicles ($12.7b USD) as well as competing in the on-road market ($6.21b USD).
UBCO now has three key markets segments globally: recreation and adventure; urban and metropolitan; agriculture and farming; selling to a network of more than 100 UBCO-approved dealers.
While the initial market focus was agriculture, this has quickly grown to include commercial fleets for postal services, tourism, conservation, civic service operations and delivery operations.
“There is a fleet of 10 million Utility Vehicles in the U.S.,” Allan said. “Electrifying this fleet presents a significant opportunity for the brand that can successfully commercialize the platform to lead this revolution.”
The high-performance adventure market will also be a focus for UBCO with the launch of the FRX-1, developed in partnership with Lithuanian tech firm Neematic. The bike was launched at the recent AIMExpo exhibition in the U.S.
“The off-road EV marketplace presents significant growth opportunities and we believe UBCO is well placed to become the world leader in this space,” Allen said.