The e-bike market has huge potential for growth. The Stromer brand occupies a premium position in this market. Going forward, the company will build on this by offering even more products designed to cater for a variety of customer requirements, ranging from competitively priced models to those with high-end equipment options. It will have the best product with the best cost/performance ratio on the market in terms of technology, design, quality and equipment across the whole range.
Trendsetter in digital connectivity
With OMNI, a cloud-based platform, Stromer offers unique connectivity worldwide via the smartphone. This connectivity is being developed and increased on a continuous basis. The system should also have new functions in future so that it can be used to communicate actively with other road users, for example, or help with navigation. It would be conceivable, for instance, to have automated audio-visual safety warning systems for collision avoidance or vibration-controlled navigation. With the latter, you would not be guided to your destination by the display but by vibrations on the handlebar telling you when to turn left or right. OMNI is also being continuously optimized for corporate fleet management or for free-floating e-bike sharing schemes like the one already in use in Zurich.
Optimization of networked thinking and working processes
The more closely employees communicate with each other across different departments, the better they will understand the whole work process – all the way from development through technology, input and cost to the finished product. The Stromer campus will also play a pioneering role in this respect in future. The design and the software and hardware for all models have all been developed in Oberwangen. Having production and assembly under one roof allows all work processes to be optimized.
“We all have the capacity for invention: it's important to encourage it.”
The worst thing any company can do is to cling stubbornly to established practices. A business may carry on working but it would soon stop moving with the times and find that its products were no longer competitive. We need to be ambitious enough to reflect on the way we do things and courageous enough to break new ground. This is the only way new opportunities will arise. Stromer works with flat hierarchies to give its employees the freedom to think for themselves and contribute their own ideas. This enables it to identify new technologies and any social or political changes at an early stage and to respond more quickly.
New technologies will revolutionize the e-bike
Even today, many ideas are still being thwarted by the limitations of lithium-ion batteries. Research and development work on solid-state batteries is now at an advanced stage, however, and they are expected to become commercially viable by the beginning of the next decade. Solid-state batteries would revolutionize pretty much everything. The solid conductive material between the positive and negative terminals would no longer need additional cooling and the battery would have a higher energy density, so more power could be "compressed" into the same volume than is the case with the liquids in today's conventional batteries. This opens up many new possibilities. The batteries would be more compact and many times more powerful, they could be recharged within minutes and they would be noncombustible and hence safer. The added power could increase the bike's range or be used as an energy source for entirely new technologies. Features that are still inconceivable today would suddenly become feasible. It is possible to imagine, for example, using the additional energy and an understanding of Formula 1 aerodynamics to create an airflow in which an e-bike rider stays dry in the rain – still a crazy notion today, but feasible in the future.
“A financially sound company is a basic requirement for the success of a good product.”
A company can only be successful if the requisite resources are available, so financially sound foundations are essential. This is the only way to build up
the necessary infrastructure and recruit the sort of staff who are capable of bringing a first-class product to market. It's no longer enough for companies to be good: you have to be better and faster than your competitors.
The radical changes in urban mobility alone require a high level of business acumen. The absence of uniform conditions and regulations in the sales markets poses further problems. In Germany, only 1% of all e-bike customers ride an S-Pedelec, whereas 99% are satisfied with a Pedelec (up to 25 km/h). In Switzerland, where different rules apply, 20% of all e-bike users opt for an
S-Pedelec. This prevents identical models from being produced in quantity and make the product more expensive. And look at Belgium, where travel costs are now tax-deductible for all commuters, car drivers and e-bike users alike. It's simply not possible to supply a market which opens up overnight like this... they are in a similar situation in the USA at the moment. Having previously been banned in New York, e-bikes are suddenly allowed!
Jakob Luksch concludes by saying that it's now his job to guide the Stromer brand to a successful future in this demanding market. A huge challenge – and one that he relishes!