New Zealand-based electric utility bike company Ubco announced a new strategic partnership with TPK Holdings, a Taiwanese electric components manufacturing company.
As part of the agreement, TPK will be leading Ubco’s Series B with a $10 million investment, bringing the company’s total funding to $23 million. TPK will also bring the company significant supply chain support as well as scaling and manufacturing capabilities in the near future.
“The partnership enables us to scale from being a producer that does individual production runs of some number of bikes to a point where we can get into rolling production and scale that up to thousands and potentially tens of thousands of vehicles,” Katherine Sandford, Ubco’s CEO and executive chair, told TechCrunch.
TPK also invested in Ubco’s $10 million convertible note round in June, alongside a range of U.S. and New Zealand-based investors like Seven Peak Ventures, Nuance Capital, GD1, Snowball Effect and Enterprise Angels. At the time Ubco said the funding would help it expand internationally, specifically with an eye to the United States.
At the initial stage of the partnership, TPK’s large network of global suppliers will help Ubco ramp up production of its flagship 2X2 electric utility bike, which comes in an off-road version geared for farmers and a city version geared for last-mile logistics. Ubco currently has two production factories in China, one for the bikes and one for the batteries. Having TPK’s support on the supply side will ultimately help reduce costs of production, says Sandford.
Ubco is also gearing up to release two new vehicles for which TPK will provide dedicated manufacturing support. The company hopes to begin production for the FRX1, an off-road trail bike for the recreational market, in 2022, and is working on a prototype for pre-release of a four-wheel utility vehicle the same year.
Ubco says the commitment from TPK also allows it to double down on its ESG values.
“TPK’s deep experience in manufacturing supply chains, particularly with complex electronics, will be invaluable in solving the industry-wide challenge of product recycling and end of life through collaboration,” said Sandford. “This funding allows UBCO to be more bullish in standing up R&D projects, such as cell chemistry work, that require more investment to bring to light of day. Further, it enables us to grow the team in critical supporting roles like increasing our testing capabilities and focusing on the management of our products at end of life.”
Ubco co-founder Timothy Allan previously told TechCrunch that the company is dedicated to ensuring a responsible end-of-life of its vehicles, which starts with making sure the product is modular enough to be broken down into its composite parts to be recycled the right way.
“When combined with our focus on building an intelligent platform, which enables subscription business models, we create a circular lifecycle where we are incentivized to maximize the usable life of the product,” said Sandford. “This additional funding helps us get the platform, operations and commercials in place to bring this circular mentality to the next level.”