News | 02/2021
Could you tell me a little about your background in the sector?
I know this world from all sides. I started very young as an Enduro rider. At the age of 18 I started my career as an official Montesa rider. I studied Industrial Engineering and participated in the Dakar Rally in 8 editions. While I was still a rider, I entered the world of motorcycle distribution, and later I ended up working in the import and motorcycle manufacturing sector. Before founding Silence, I created my own brand of gas motorbikes, where I got to know the world of motorbike manufacturing in Asia very well. I know the motorbike sector from the point of view of the industry, the competition, distribution, manufacturing... I have been in the motorbike industry all my life.
What is the background to the company?
Silence wants to specialize in light vehicles. Our focus is neither on bicycles, nor on cars, nor on heavy vehicles. What we do focus on are motorcycles, mopeds, light quadricycles, light tricycles... all those vehicles that we understand to be necessary mobility for the new cities. These light vehicles are not only much more sustainable in terms of energy, but they are also way more appropriate in terms of space. We are thinking of small vehicles to move around urban space.
The great advantage of Silence is that everything is designed and developed in Europe, specifically in Barcelona. The development times are very different, because decisions are not made 12.000 km away. As an example, on May 14th we presented a motorcycle designed for the pandemic. We created and manufactured it during the pandemic. The S02 Low Speed. A robust and functional moped adapted to the new times. Very economical in terms of purchase and consumption. We were able to present this vehicle having designed it in the middle of the pandemic, because everything happens here in Europe.
What are Silence ambitions for the sector?
We are Europe’s leaders in two-wheeled vehicles, but we want more. We want to become leaders in electric mobility, focusing on light mobility. At Silence we offer different models that adapt to all kinds of needs. From motorbikes for professionals and fleets (S02, S03), to models for private use (S01, S02 HS, S02 LS).
We also have new products in mind for the future. Some of them will be available throughout 2021. They will be surprising. One of our most imminent projects is what we call the “Battery Swap”, battery exchangers. Soon people will be able to use the Silence Battery Stations to share batteries. You can book a fully charged battery through the Silence App and exchange it for your dead battery, without having to wait to charge. It puts an end to the recharging time; it works like a petrol station. You arrive to the station and you are able to charge your vehicle in a few seconds.
But the greatest benefit is that users will be able to buy one of our products at a more affordable price, since they will not be buying a battery, they will just pay a monthly fee for its use. With this, the price of the bike will become even lower than the price of a gas motorbike. All our Silence products will work with this new system, as well as other brands’ vehicles who use our products such as SEAT or Acciona.
Are engineering, product design and styling done in house and /or by who?
Yes, everything is done in house. Both our assembly line and R&D team (which is in charge of the product design and engineering) are located in Barcelona. The reason why we design and produce in Europe is because the European product has clearly different specifications. Apart from quality issues related to manufacturing 12.000 km away (by producing in Europe you achieve higher quality standards), our products are already designed with a different conception. What do I mean? For example, the motorcycles that come from Asia, besides having a lower quality, are designed in a concept of vehicle that has less performance, and are much smaller... The European customer is looking for higher performance motorcycles. European customers want a bigger vehicle which allows them to move fast around intercity roads. We intend to replace and compete directly with gas vehicles. And that's why it is essential to be able to design it ourselves and do it here in Europe.
How do you integrate the design and engineering teams?
We have an R&D department where engineers and designers are perfectly integrated. More than 25 people are working in Silence's own R&D and design team, in addition to other design agencies that work for us on certain aspects.
We design, test, verify its functioning and then we go into production of all improvements to our motorbikes. Everything happens in an integrated way. It's a continuous improvement process that happens quickly in the same geographical area.
What was the brief and challenges in creating the new scooter?
We wanted to make for the first time a scooter that could compete with gas models. To do this, it was very important that the performance was equivalent to 125 cc gas motorcycles. Not only did we meet this challenge, but in some aspects, we improved on it. Silence motorcycles have a certified range of 127 km. Our vehicle accelerates from 0 to 50 km in 3.9 seconds, one second faster than 125 cc gas vehicles. Those were key conditions for the new design.
In addition to creating a vehicle with an equivalent performance to gas bikes, we wanted to create a motorcycle with an image, with an attractive aesthetic. Many people find the bike nice-looking and cool. So, not only we made a bike that works and with high autonomy, but we have also made a bike that can compete with gas models in terms of aesthetics, quality, and usability. For example, our bike has an under-seat helmet box that holds 2 helmets, something that no electric bike has, nor do most gas motorbikes.
What are some of its unique features?
One of our unique features are our batteries. Recharging an electric motorbike has never been easier. Our battery is removable, it works like a trolley with wheels that allows to break the barrier of the charging point. You can comfortably and safely transport the battery to any conventional plug: at home, in the office, in a bar... Any place is good and suitable for recharging.
It is also the largest battery on the market. It has a capacity of 5.6 kWh, the largest on the market, which allows us to have the most powerful engine with the maximum range.
But that’s not everything. In terms of connectivity, Silence scooters are completely controlled from your mobile phone: start-up, seat opening, location and battery status, among many other things.
What battery pack technology is used for the scooter?
We use Samsung cells, which are very well known. All electronics, assembly, production, and design are done in house. We are the only European manufacturer that assembles its own batteries. We design and manufacture them.
Power energy has many benefits besides the zero-carbon footprint. They are zero-emission vehicles that do not pollute. To the benefits for the environment, we must add the advantages for the economy of its owner. The price of recharging is the equivalent of £4.5 for petrol, £0.6 (depending on the contracted fee) for electricity, much more affordable.
What other projects are they working on?
Apart from our most imminent project (the Battery Swap Stations), we are working on new light mobility vehicles. We are also working on connectivity issues (which we believe to be the future).
Silence's core business consists of all its zero-emission urban mobility vehicles and the services associated with them. 2021 will be a very important year, where we will present innovations in services, connectivity, and new vehicles. A preview: we are not only thinking about motorbikes…
What are your reflections on 2020 – how has Covid 19 impacted your strategy?
COVID has helped to accelerate the mobility’s transformation. Somehow people became more aware of the need for zero emissions and private transportation. During the months of lockdown, we discovered how nice our cities are without noise and pollution. I could breathe fresh air, I could hear the birds singing… Air pollution decreased all over the world. Pandemic has made us see how our cities could be if there were no polluting and noisy vehicles.
Despite the fact that COVID made us stop production for two whole months, we increased our turnover around 20% over the previous year. People are now more afraid of public transport, afraid of getting infected. This is one of the reasons why our sales increased during this 2020.
What do you see as the key trends in the sector?
60 or 70% of the utilitarian motorcycles in the European market are gas engines. Only a very small part are electric. We’re talking about a potential market of close to one million units in Europe alone. But this is going to change. I believe that this whole sector will be, sooner or later, replaced by electric motorcycles.
The pandemic has accelerated this process. While gas motorbikes have sold far fewer units, sales of electric motorbikes, especially Silence, have continued to increase.
What are your objectives looking ahead to 2021?
Our objectives are very ambitious. We are currently leaders in Europa and we want to stay that way. But, since this is a very small market, we want to be able to lead this market’s growth. We aim for electric motorbikes to become the majority of urban utility motorbikes. We must replace gas models.
Our plan also foresees the incorporation of new Silence products and the battery exchanger project.
What are the main challenges facing the sector?
A cultural change is needed, a collective awareness. This is one of the biggest challenges for the sector. Big cities such as London, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin and many others are already limiting the access to certain areas of the city. We’re talking about measures to help improve air quality such as the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London, or the Low Emissions Zone (ZBE) in Barcelona. From this year onward, more restrictions are going to be implemented in order to protect the city from pollution. This will escalate in every city and country in Europe.
But in order to achieve this collective cultural change, administrations need to help us by implementing new infrastructures. There should be more recharging points in the cities so that people have fewer difficulties to load their electric vehicles. They also need to provide more support for the purchase of electric vehicles, with tax incentives or direct subsidies for their acquisition.
Innovation – making choices how do you select the right ones?
This is an interesting question. We are in front of a new sector, with a new technology, which means that there are no references. We have a very clear strategy, but after creating and designing our products, it only remains to test them over and over again. This is the empirical method. After the work of the engineers, our testers go to the streets and subject our innovations to the most rigorous tests. Once we have checked that everything works, they are ready for production. Only then.
This is the system that has led us to lead the European market, and which is imposed in a market where everything is new and has to be validated by our own experience.
That is the secret of Silence, thousands of kilometers behind all our designs.