Article by Mark N. Vena.
Modern-day Barcelona is an elegant and profound mixture of the rich Spanish and Catalan cultures of the region. The city is one of the great cultural centers of Europe, housing numerous museums, theaters, and performing arts venues that speak to Barcelona’s 2,000 years of history. Numerous artists, filmmakers, and other creative professionals proudly call the city home. Amongst other things, the city is known for its Catalan modernism architecture (known as Art Nouveau to much of Europe), which was developed between 1885 and 1950. Barcelona is one of the great cities of the world, and stands as a majestic testament to human creativity.
It is against this remarkable backdrop that I attended a 2-day launch event conducted by premium e-bike maker Rayvolt. The brainchild of Mathieu Rauzier, the company has a decidedly alternative approach to the growing e-bike category that I believe differentiates them from the scores of companies, both large and small, in the growing segment.
Rauzier has an educational background in naval engineering, with experience in yacht design, web design, and even the creation of a brand of paddle surf boards (his admitted passion). This experience is evident in the Rayvolt brand, product line, and vision. The company’s international meeting event in mid-March was conducted at the European Modern Art (El Born) in downtown Barcelona, where Rauzier articulated Rayvolt’ s mission and showcased its wide line of e-bikes against the backdrop of many of Europe’s great works of art. While Rayvolt has technically been operational for about 3 years, this event had the flavor of an international launch (in part due to the venue). It was attended by global dealers as far away as Australia and Louisiana.
Rauzier kicked off the event, noting that traditional bikes have not materially evolved over the past century. Putting the electrical component aside, a typical bicycle still consists of the same key elements: frame, hub-based wheels, gear-based braking system, shifting levers, front and rear derailleurs, and chain. Even as the bicycle industry has begun to embrace rechargeable electric motors over the past several years, mobile app integration has been virtually non-existent with most e-bike brands.
If there is a word that properly describes Rayvolt’s wide lineup of e-bikes, it would be swagger. Its design concept seems to invoke the legendary era of early-1900s Indian motorcycles, the 1969 Café Racer and 1970 Beach Cruiser. In contrast to the many highly utilitarian-looking e-bikes on the scene, Rayvolt’s e-bikes are a virtual feast for the eyes. Not only are these e-bikes pleasing to look at, they are designed around what Rayvolt calls EVIA: an “intelligent virtual assistant” that connects wirelessly to the bike control system and facilitates access to the motor and battery settings, the regenerative braking system, embedded GPS, mapping features, and diagnostics support for motor and battery. Rayvolt’s models range in price from ~$3,150 to ~$4,110—price points that certainly position Rayvolt as a BMW or Mercedes-Benz-class brand. Interestingly enough, the dealers that I spoke with at the event were not phased by these prices, given the quality, technology, and the Rayvolt brand. You can view videos of Rayvolt’s products (including its Barcelona event) here and browse its entire product catalog here.
Rauzier saved the most intriguing element of the Barcelona event for the last 30 minutes. He unveiled several other product concepts, including e-scooter and e-motorcycle designs, that he believes will be part of an industry “renaissance” as the electric bike market evolves and expands. Clearly, Rayvolt has the electric scooter sharing category in its sights; it even announced an engagement with Yego, an e-scooter sharing service in Barcelona. Rauzier’s aspirations are laudable, but Rayvolt will have to be careful not to spread itself too thin given the market opportunity it has in the core e-bike space. Having said that, there is no doubt that scooter sharing companies will find significant value in Rayvolt’s robust and high-quality offerings. Rayvolt’s products will presumably be longer lasting, which is key to profitability in the e-scooter sharing space.
Rayvolt deserves a deeper dive
According to Statista, the size of the global market for electric bikes is expected to grow from $15.7 billion dollars to $24.3 billion dollars in 2016—a growth of approximately 55%. The overall market is significantly fractured, with hundreds of micro players with single digit and sub-single digit share. This lends credence to the view that a disruptive new force could pick up significant share by doing something different.
Rayvolt’s approach to the e-bike category is so differentiated from the scores of other mainstream e-bike players on the market that it deserves a deeper dive. I will release a white paper soon on Rayvolt’s brand and product line strategy, assessing the company’s potential impact in the growing e-bike market. While Rayvolt has a small team, it was hard not to come away from the event feeling impressed by their passion and dedication to the company’s mission. I look forward to looking further under the hood of Rayvolt’s strategy and assessing the company’s potential to exploit the huge growth in the e-bike category. Please stay tuned.
Mark N. Vena is a Moor Insights & Strategy senior analyst covering the smart home, home automation, security, and console gaming.