chinese electric motorbikes

Motorbike enthusiast designs Chinese electric motorbikes that sell to Europe and North America: China Paradigm #115 with Nathan Siy

Nathan Siy is a Canadian-born, Beijing-based entrepreneur and motorbike enthusiast. He founded Evoke Motorcycles. Evoke designs and manufactures high-end Chinese electric motorbikes in Beijing. The company specializes in smart mobility and produces safer and faster-charging batteries. It aims to be the market leader in electronic motorcycles. Before he founded Evoke Motorcycles, Nathan set up a company in Beijing which organizes electric bike tours of the city. His educational background was in electronic engineering and his lifelong hobby has been riding motorbikes.

Listen to the full China Paradigm episode 115 on YoutubeApple PodcastSpotifySoundcloud, or Ximalaya.

An introduction to Evoke Motorcycles

Evoke’s Chinese electric motorbikes are composed of around 252 components, which they source from around 35 different suppliers. They have a top speed of around 150 km per hour and the software in the bike can be updated by the motorbike’s owner manually. They have received around 1 million USD in seed funding and their revenue has now exceeded 1.5 million USD.

In 2017, Nathan and his international team of designers and manufacturers were making about 200 electronic motorcycles a year. They had a fairly strong social media presence, and this is how they came across a very lucky break. Foxconn had recently had their AGM and was looking into electric vehicles. One division was focusing on 2 wheeled electric vehicles and found Evoke Motorcycles online. When they sent 2 company reps to Evoke’s small facility and they met with a member of Nathan’s business team. However, when the message was passed onto Nathan, he presumed it was a scam, after all, what would Foxconn want to do with a small player like Evoke? After about 2 months of his team trying to convince Nathan to meet with them, he eventually relented and went to meet with the supposed Foxconn representatives. He was shown around their massive Beijing facility which also housed production facilities for Sharp electronics. This was the start of an amazing relationship between Evoke and Foxconn. And he has his social media presence and business development team to thank for it.

What exactly did Foxconn do for Evoke Motorcyles?

Foxconn managed to scale up the production of Nathan’s Chinese electric motorbikes. Foxconn doesn’t do half measures and showed him the engineering processes it would take to scale from 1 to 1,000, to 100,000 motorcycle units. They also had a look at Evoke’s SOP manual and bumped it from 25 to 250 pages. Evoke Motorcycles still use Foxconn’s facilities in Beijing to conduct R&D to this day. And best of all, Foxconn didn’t take any equity in the business. Foxconn finds projects that align with its goals and put them through an incubator process with the final aim of contract manufacturing thousands of units for the companies. At their 2018 AGM, Foxconn decided to pivot to industry 4.0, but that wasn’t the end of the relationship. Evoke still consult with Foxconn, they partner on R&D projects, and they still use the Foxconn facilities.

“They found us online, cold-called us, literally came to our door with a business card, and at first I thought it was a scam, but after 2 months I agreed to meet with them, and since then, we have learned so much from them about manufacturing and quality assurance…

…they helped us out so much in terms of getting things ready for larger quantities. They took our SOP from a 20 or 25-page manual to about a 250 page SOP manual. So in 2017 and 2018, we were bumping up our production procedures really quickly and getting ready for them to take over complete contract manufacturing. And you would think they would take a big part of our equity for this but as a feature of their top-down management system, their goal in 2017 was the electrification of 2 wheeled vehicles, but in 2018, they pivoted to Industry 4.0. They didn’t take any equity in our company and actually, our R&D facility is still over there, so we do some joint projects in battery development.”

Nathan Siy, founder of Evoke Motorcycles

Who buys Evoke’s Chinese electric motorbikes?

Right now, about 70% of the people riding Evoke’s Chinese electronic motorcycles are outside China. This is because electronic motorcycles are subsidized in Europe and America, whereas they are not in China. They are B2B and sell through a growing and trusted distributor network and these distributors sell to dealerships or to the end-users directly. An Evoke, Chinese electric motorbikes will set consumers back around 8 to 10 thousand US dollars. However, with the recent introduction of government policies and a commitment to the electric vehicle industry by the Chinese government, Nathan expects to see substantial growth in the domestic market over the next 5 to 10 years.

Listen to the full China Paradigm episode 115 on YoutubeApple PodcastSpotifySoundcloud, or Ximalaya.