What is the story of CityFreighter? How did you come up with the idea?
Two years ago, Michael, one of our founders and a big Tesla fan, was looking at the developments in the commercial EV market and concluded that there wasn't much happening. On the other hand, Michael was sure that for e-mobility to become more accepted, the commercial market will be a key driver as the rapidly growing eCommerce business and inner city pollution discussions will be a source of conflict and opportunity.
Michael told a friend that he would like to start a new company and to develop commercial e-trucks. "You are not able to do it", the friend answered, "too much money needed". Well, you need to know that statements such as "you are not able", or "you can't do it" are words which are not part of the team’s vocabulary. There is always a way! You just need to find the right directions. First, extensive market research started. The first idea was to form a joint venture with a large Chinese brand.
One day, during multiple visits to truck factories, Michael was watching the assembly at one of China's leading truck manufacturers, Foton, and figured "There is no magic ingredient here” After that, the modular concept to develop a new brand, to outsource production to reliable suppliers and concentrate on R&D and final assembly was born. A way to start an automotive manufacturing company with relatively low investments leveraging the advantages of e-mobility. Since then a lot has happened. The team has been built, the concept has been detailed at every step and here we are.
Are you guys not too ambitious, or do you really think that you can deliver?
The KEY thing for us is to be real. So, despite some dreamers presenting fantasy "photoshop" designs and "somehow in ten years" wishful thinking strategies, we focus from the start on delivering. The experience within the team on manufacturing and how to execute challenging projects plays an important role here. When we say we will be able to finalize the working prototype within 3-4 months, you can be sure that we have a detailed plan in place to execute that. We flew around the globe, had hundreds of meetings and discussed our strategy with premium automotive suppliers, like BOSCH. The whole truck layout and production plan is ready.
Established manufacturers have invested heavily to develop electric trucks. How can CityFreighter compete with them?
Some of the team does not have any experience in the automotive industry, but they know how to develop a business, have engineering experience and are motivated to make a change. And often it is an advantage to come from the "outside" and bring fresh perspectives to processes which are in place for many years, to identify combinations of using innovative new methods and established ones. And having a team of 100 engineers or just 10 working on a new invention does not automatically mean the bigger team will be more effective. But, you need to pay for the bigger team. The key is that mobility is a disruptive technology. We believe this offers a lot of new opportunities. More small-scale companies will now have the chance to innovate in this field. We have decided to outsource our production to reliable suppliers, taking advantage of using their R&D departments as well. It will allow us to fully concentrate on our mission: "We will become a leader in Clean Urban Logistics Solutions. We will provide premium customized electric trucks for our customers, to solve their key problems. Making the impossible possible"
Tell me about autonomous driving. Doesn't the logistics industry have different requirements than passenger cars?
You are absolutely right. For passenger cars, we believe that autonomous driving will become a standard feature, containing a lidar, cameras, sensors and software, even upgradeable to existing cars.
For the logistics industry, and here for the "last mile" logistics", things will be completely different. Autonomous driving requires a customized adaption to the infrastructure of the specific fleet operator. For example, we believe that the UPS infrastructure will be different from DHL. Any concepts need to include the whole process of parcel distribution. We see autonomous driving coming in steps here. And there are interesting possibilities. For example, a package with RFID code will be loaded on the truck, the software of the truck recognizes the code, it will connect to the navigation system, and the truck will use, based on traffic condition and other package deliveries, an optimized route for each. It could also send a message to the receiver with the estimated time of arrival and the receiver could even re-route it in real time.
What kind of battery technology are you using and what is the size of the battery pack?
We are using lithium-ion soft packaging and will determine the basic battery pack after extensive testing on the prototype on the East Coast and other locations. An electric truck should not only perform well under beautiful summer conditions in California but also in the harsh winter conditions of Alaska.
How will you keep up with the rapidly changing technologies in the automotive sector? And why do you outsource the production and not assembly?
This is exactly why we believe that outsourcing is the right way to go. Our suppliers for the key elements, cabin production, battery, drive train and
software are all established and experienced companies who do a lot of research, watch the market and introduce new technologies when they are ready.
This will always provide us with a key advantage, reducing our own R&D costs and still staying ahead. We can fully concentrate on the product development. Doing the assembly is also key for us. We do the final inspection, making sure only premium quality will be shipped to our customers.
Where are you going to find all the great talent you need to build-up this venture?
We expect to scale-up quickly and are constantly looking for exceptional people to join us. At present, we are particularly interested in US or Europe-based experts in the areas of automotive connectivity, related software engineering, and structural design. Start a conversation with us anytime by sending your CV/Resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
What will be coming after the CF1?
Good question. The CF1 is our first model with a fast go-to-market concept to make money and to innovate further from a solid base. The CF1 process will provide us with a lot of experience, customer feedback, and ideas for future models. After that, we are discussing developing a new model from scratch. But this has not yet been determined.
I believe the country I am coming from will develop a strong market for electric trucks. Is there a way we could cooperate?
Talk to us and send us a mail with your proposal to investorrelations@CityFreighter.com. There are different scenarios possible, like licensing, exclusive distribution and more. We are open to serious suggestions. Rule of thumb: Always include detailed information about yourself, the proposed market and the business model. We would be happy to grow the CityFreighter family globally.
Are you collaborating with other players in the industry, creating strategic partnerships?
Yes, this is part of the plan. We are talking to companies in different fields, such as hardware, software, battery technology and drivetrains.
We are currently in talks with well-known corporations, but cannot disclose names here at this point.
How much money are you planning to raise after this round?
Well, the funding for the prototype is the most difficult part. It is like a "chicken and egg" game. You don't get money without a physical prototype. Without money, you can't do a prototype. And even more interesting, we have already got serious interest for the next funding round. So far we financed the operations out of our own pockets, no outside investors.
When the prototype is finished, the big game starts. Series A. We estimate we would need to raise between 10 to 15 million dollars. This will enable us to finalize the development, extending our own R&D and going into serial production with a solid financial base a And start to make a profit. Our prototype will be the required base for that, and it will be awesome!