A Glimpse into TRUCKRUN's Innovative Journey
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Recently, with the top ebike brands Aventon and TENWAYS securing the latest funding rounds from Sequoia and Tencent respectively, the entire ebike industry has been heating up. This track, which combines "carbon neutrality + short-distance travel + consumer technology + smart hardware + going global," has become one of the few hot investment areas this year.
In terms of market acceptance, ebikes are more popular overseas than in China, with Europe having the highest market penetration and the USA experiencing the fastest growth. According to Deloitte data, from 2017 to 2021, ebike sales in Europe and North America grew by 156% to reach 6.4 million units, providing excellent opportunities for domestic ebike brands to expand internationally. Chinese brand "Da Yu Zhi Xing" achieved sales of 900,000 units in the US in 2021, and the international ebike brand "URTOPIA" also secured funding this year.
Amidst the excitement on the brand side, opportunities in the upstream supply chain are also worth noting. In simple terms, an ebike is an ordinary bicycle equipped with a power system, with the motor system at its core. In terms of cost structure, the motor system accounts for 40% to 50% of the overall vehicle cost. Regarding product performance, the ebike's motor system functions similarly to a bicycle's gearbox, and its performance often determines the overall performance of the ebike.
In terms of the competitive landscape, the ebike motor industry is currently dominated by a few major players, with Bosch and Shimano holding the majority of the market share. However, this monopoly has resulted in issues such as high motor costs, low compatibility, and poor service. Domestic manufacturers mainly focus on cost-effectiveness, with less significant technological advantages in high-end mid-drive motors.
TRUCKRUN, founded in 2017 and located in Wuxi, China's "City of Two Wheels," is primarily engaged in the research, development, production, and sales of ebike motor systems.
TRUCKRUN was jointly established by experienced bicycle practitioners and enthusiasts. It has achieved significant breakthroughs in key core areas such as motor research and development, intelligent cycling, and human-vehicle collaboration. With a vision to become China's leading player and earn the title of 'the Bosch of China' in the mid-drive ebike era.
Founder Zhuo Lan has nearly 20 years of experience in the two-wheeler industry, having previously worked in motor and frame business lines at Sunra. In 2013, after witnessing Bosch's first mid-drive motor launch at a Eurobike exhibition, he believed that this would be the future trend. Upon returning to China, he founded an ebike motor company and became one of the earliest suppliers to Mobike, providing modules. Around the shared mobility scene, his company supplied a total of three million sets of modules to Mobike and 600,000 sets of skateboard motors to Lime. These four million sets of riding data not only laid the foundation for TRUCKRUN's technical research and development but also honed the team's mass production, quality control, and engineering expertise, ensuring product safety and user experience.
Ebike motors are mainly divided into mid-drive motors and hub motors, with mid-drive motors positioned in the middle of the vehicle. The difference lies in their performance and application scenarios. Ebikes for city commuting typically have motors below 500W, and hub motors can meet those needs. For off-road scenarios, motors with 500-1000W are required, making mid-drive motors more suitable.
According to Zhuo Lan, the torque sensor of mid-drive motors is installed at the bottom bracket of the bike, making it more sensitive to the rider's torque and speed, resulting in more precise control of the bike. A well-designed mid-drive motor can give riders an "integrated human and vehicle" experience. Due to the smaller and more concentrated force applied at the bottom bracket, mid-drive motors have higher requirements for overall structure and internal component design.
Due to differences in performance and installation difficulty, the two types of motors also have a significant price difference. Hub motors have an average unit price of around 300-400 RMB, while mid-drive motors are around 2000 RMB.
In terms of market penetration, mid-drive motors currently account for only 20% of the entire ebike market. However, it is estimated that this number will rise to 57% in the European market by 2025. The current international manufacturers such as Bosch and Shimano have fewer mid-drive motor products with higher prices, while domestic manufacturers focus mainly on hub motors, resulting in weaker mid-drive motor product offerings. In other words, market demand is not fully met, presenting a structural growth opportunity for mid-drive motors.
Therefore, in terms of product layout, TRUCKRUN currently focuses on mid-drive motors as the core, with a product line covering mid-drive motors, hub motors, skateboard motors, etc. Integration and standardization are TRUCKRUN's product philosophy. Zhuo Lan stated, "Increasing product integration can not only improve overall vehicle performance but also increase the average unit price and gross margin of individual products." Additionally, product consistency, stability, and yield are also advantages of TRUCKRUN, thanks to its high standard of craftsmanship and a 12-point testing system. Currently, only TRUCKRUN and another company have such a testing system in China.
In terms of technological research and development, TRUCKRUN adopts a platform-based R&D system, matching the complete chain of "research and development - production - after-sales service." Currently, key indicators such as motor efficiency, torque, transmission ratio, torque control, and feedback accuracy are better than those of domestic peers. Additionally, in terms of intelligence, TRUCKRUN optimizes the riding experience through data-driven methods based on the riding data of four million motors from Mobike, Lime, and others, combined with different riding scenarios.
TRUCKRUN's customer base currently includes top sports brands, high-end overseas brands, and shared mobility platforms, among others, with more than 100 clients. According to Zhuo Lan, TRUCKRUN's next step is to establish after-sales systems in Europe and the USA to increase market share and brand recognition in these regions. "The US is a virgin market, with unified regulations and the fastest growth rate, making it suitable for the growth of startup companies. In addition, compared to the European market with commuting needs, the US market's demand is more focused on leisure and outdoor activities, which means that high-performance products with outstanding capabilities have a better market potential," Zhuo Lan told 36Kr.
Apart from ebike motors, TRUCKRUN is also expanding into other categories such as electric motorcycles, electric boats, and robots. In the electric motorcycle sector, TRUCKRUN has signed a contract with a well-known international motorcycle brand. Zhuo Lan stated that "Motor Drives the World" is TRUCKRUN's mission, and in the future, there may be more hardware categories that require motors. TRUCKRUN's ambitions will not be limited to becoming the "Bosch" of the ebike industry.
It is reported that TRUCKRUN has initiated its first round of financing, and the funds will primarily be used for product research and development, team building, and expanding overseas markets. Blue Bell Capital will serve as the long-term exclusive financial advisor for the financing.
Note:This article is based on the original report by 36Kr, a China-based publishing and data company focused on the ‘new economy’. 36Kr is an unparalleled platform that covers over 30,000 startups and new economy enterprises in China and beyond, with more than 300 million readers worldwide. 36Kr also provides comprehensive services for innovative tech companies, such as media, data, events, investment, and incubation.
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