Johan, the CEO of Velove Bikes AB, was, and still is, passionate about vehicle tech in general and Formula 1 racing in particular. But he also learned that the energy and resource intensive car habits of the industrialised world are seriously threatening the planet.
He did extensive research into the world of ultra efficient cargo bikes and velomobiles. And finally, in 2011, he decided to combine his passion for cars and knowledge about the limitations of the car by developing a new type of bike, at that point of time aimed for private use.
An intense, open online discussion and an open workshop laid the theoretical foundation for the first prototypes. Linda and Dennis joined the project with their product development and mass production experience from Better Shelter.
The first two Armadillo prototypes were built by Johans dad Börje (a car freak too), in his garage, with very encouraging results.
We knew we were really on to something with a narrow, high stability, four wheel cargo bike with a comfy seat instead of a saddle. The semi-trailer was prototyped already at prototype 1 stage, and we realised that this bike would also make a very attractive city logistics vehicle.
We found some financing together and could hire the world class dutch bike engineers Flevobike for the third prototype in 2014.
The result spoke for itself, with DHL Express moving in as an early adopter and contributing to setting the requirements for the first version of the City Container. In 2016, we partnered with experienced Czech special bike manufacturing partner Katanga.
We have developed the Armadillo and the City container by testing the products in real world operations, listening carefully to what customers say and doing the development in as many iterations as needed.
When we now put the Armadillo into production there have been five earlier versions of it: Prototype 1-3, early pre-series and late pre-series.
The City Container has also had three prototypes before the current design. From long bike adventures, Gothenburg-Copenhagen (350 km), Gothenburg-Stockholm (600 km) and along the Rhine (500 km) and the hard testing from logistics operators Pling, DHL, DB Schenker and Hermes, we have received valuable input that has strongly affected the development.
It has led to the capable, agile and comfortable human powered vehicle we are now excited to see putting smiles on peoples faces as they are replacing vans.
E-commerce and field services, where vans and cars are used are increasing congestion on already crowded streets in city centers. However, many of the deliveries and service assignments do not really require heavy motor vehicles, but can be carried out by significantly smaller and more energy efficient vehicles, such as cargo bikes. Nordstan and Velove now facilitate the use of light vehicles by establishing a city hub. With safe areas for parking, changing rooms, traffic management, transhipment and maintenance and repairs, it will now be easier for Pling, Best and DHL Express to use to replace small deliveries in central Gothenburg, which is today made with vans, with nine of Velove's cargo bikes.
Velove has recruited Kristian Malm as CFO. Kristian has a long and broad experience of business administration and financing, and have had similar positions in several companies.
Last week we launched our new co-operation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), when presenting a fuel cell system demonstrator for the Armadillo. We have also done another fuel cell demonstrator in the past, together with RI.SE. In this article, we would like to explain why we are interested in this technology.