CycloTricity completes the first full assembly line for electric bikes in Britain
Cyclotricity today announced they have implemented the first ever assembly line for their full range of electric bikes in Britain. The project has been ongoing for over a year setting up facilities, processes and machinery to turn their premises in Aldershot into an assembly factory for electric bicycles.
Whilst many of the components in the bikes continue to be selected and bought from suppliers around the world, CycloTricity is taking the step to manufacture some key components in-house with the help of small British engineering firms, taking their assembly process to a deeper level of manufacturing.
The new facilities required an initial investment of £180,000 to set up and can be expanded into having a production capacity of 10,000 bikes per year. Although, the target for this first year is only 3,000 bikes, the company expresses great optimism for large growth judging by the undeniable shift in the e-bike market over the last few years.
“There is a misconception that ‘Made in Britain’ always comes with a premium price tag, which is true in the majority of cases. But in certain circumstances, it could actually be quite the contrary.” said Rami Akily, Managing Director of CycloTricity.
“We Brits are far more efficient in manufacturing highly technical and ‘clever’ products. The more technical and intricate the product is, the more efficient we tend to be at controlling its build process, which eventually translates into a reduced price tag compared to an outsourced manufacturing that’s only remotely managed (or sometimes mismanaged).
CycloTricity has a young management team of 8 individuals, and a clear vision of taking the ‘Made in Britain’ flag to the wider European market. Their first overseas branch was set up this year in Malmo, Sweden to cater for the Scandinavian market. Plans are in place to replicate their export model in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands as a next step to make room for a British made e-bike in those countries.
We knew that relocating our production to the UK made sense. And although we knew how to make it viable theoretically, getting the process to manifest itself practically was harder than first anticipated. One challenge we didn’t anticipate for example was how difficult it would be to hire the right skill set. It turns out that Britain is full of very talented engineers and bike mechanics, but due to the lack of factories here, the experience of running a functional production line was hard to come by. As a result, we had to design and optimize our own process from scratch. This took quite some time, research and a lot of trial and error.
We eventually managed to implement a very well structured process where we train new mechanics to seamlessly fit within the assembly process. They are trained to a level at which they can even run their own production line at some stage in the future if they so wished! We are incredibly proud to have perfected this process and help bringing the manufacturing skills back to Britain.
That said, it wasn’t all full of challenges. We also had a number of pleasant surprises. Since we do a lot of the research and development ourselves, we benefitted from significant tax savings for our R&D efforts. Which is a great incentive for us to carry on developing more, and we are now embarking on building our own crank drive motor made from parts 100% engineered in the UK!
We also realized the prototyping and engineering process is much smoother and more effective done here in the UK. With the advent of 3D printing and other rapid prototyping techniques, we can get a proof of concept fairly quickly without having to design and re-design costly moulds.
And it turns out that there are plenty of small engineering firms in the UK that will machine parts in various different specialties, so partnering up with a few of them to improve some of our components was a delight compared to doing such intricate work offshore.
Electric bikes have traditionally been riddled with technical problems for far too long. The quality control process has always been a struggle for manufacturers having their build process in the Far East. Especially for those with a long supply chain and too many parties involved. Not only does this add to the retail price of the end product, but quality issues tend to slip through the testing phase and only appear in the field when a customer is riding the bike. Problems such as dysfunctional motors, dying battery cells, connection short circuits and other mismanaged issues throughout the outsourced build process. This is the case in both the upper and lower ends of the market in various degrees.
We are determined to change that for good by providing our customers with bikes that have been assembled under our watchful eye.
Manufacturing in Britain is of course not for everyone given the usual challenges of high labour costs, scolding business rates and employer taxes. But in certain industries where the product needs a concentrated level of quality control throughout its production stages, there are in fact enough advantages in taking onboard more in-house and still neutralize the added costs.
CycloTricity is the only team of designers, engineers and mechanics that has taken the leap into proving this to be the case. We are now superseding the quality of most electric bicycles, and can in fact even compete with the readily imported electric bikes from the Far East pricewise!
We are hoping we can lead the way and be an inspiration for other companies to at least consider such a shift in thinking.