Marc Camarasa, COO of Silence: “Barcelona is definitely the place to develop a light electric mobility project”
16 May 2023
Business Investments · Automotive, Logistics & Smart Cities
Barcelona-based automotive company Silence designs and manufactures electric vehicles that will help shape the urban mobility of the future. Founded in 2012, last year, the company had already obtained 20% of the European electric motorcycle market.
Using Barcelona as a pilot test city for all their strategies, Silence commercializes its electric vehicles in 26 markets and plans to deploy around 500 selling points in Europe in the next three years. Their clients range from individual users to last-mile delivery companies and motor-sharing companies.
Marc Camarasa, COO of Silence, talks in this interview about launching their first nanocar (SO4) and why Catalonia is the best place to develop a mobility project in Europe.
“Silence has been the leader in the electric motorcycle market over the last four years, with a market share of over 20% in Europe”
Silence will launch its first electric car this year. Can you please tell us more about it?
This year we will launch SO4, the first electric four-wheeler developed by Silence. It is a way to expand our portfolio of products with a two-seater model that uses the same battery as our motorcycles.
It is a very convenient nanocar, very easy for city parking, and, of course, comfortable, safe, and sustainable. For example, in Barcelona, more than 92% of cars are used by only one passenger. This is what we understand will be the new mobility in city centers.
We develop battery packs for all our vehicles, and the four-wheelers will also use the same battery pack. It has a range of 149 kilometers and a small, almost 250-liter capacity trunk.
Where is your manufacturing site located?
This year we have set up a new factory in Zona Franca, in the Barcelona metropolitan area. Out of its 61,000 square meters, we can start the production of the SO4, our motorcycles, and the battery packs.
We are pioneering this transition to the new industrial century with electric mobility. We are the first company installed in Zona Franca to develop and manufacture electric vehicles. And we hope we won’t be the only one.
So, this increase in our capacity is a step forward for our company. With these new premises, we will be able to manufacture around 20,000 SO4 per shift and 50,000 units of motorcycles in the future.
We plan to start producing the SO4 in the second quarter of 2023. This increased capacity will take the company to another level in terms of what is the electric market today. There's huge growth coming, and we want to continue being the leaders in the following years.
Why is Catalonia a good place for operating an electric vehicle business?
There are many reasons! The first one is that Barcelona is the Spanish city with the largest number of motorcycles on the streets. And this is very important. We are one of the top three in Europe. So, Barcelona is definitely the place to develop a light electric mobility project.
Also, Catalonia has a legacy, a history related to motorcycles. It was where different brands were developed in the last century, like Derbi, Ossa, and so on. Traditional petrol brands were very successful at that moment. And we have inherited this history, and we are proud to say that we followed in their steps to develop this project.
In Catalonia, we have the proper knowledge and the right ecosystem of suppliers. And the knowledge of employees as well. Some of the employees that used to work in these companies have joined the Silence team to contribute to the project with this valuable experience from the past.
What is your market share in Spain and in Europe?
We have the right ecosystem to be a pioneer of this urban shift. Thanks to this strategy, Silence has been the European leader in the electric motorcycle market over the last four years, with a market share of over 20% in Europe. Our most important markets in Europe are France, Germany, and Spain.
We have a partnership with SEAT, one of the divisions of the Volkswagen Group, and we are developing their electric motorcycles (SEAT MÓ). Our partnership is in its third year, and we are proud that they rely on us as a development and manufacturing partner.
In Spain, Silence has a market share of over 35%. Our priority right now is Europe, but we aren’t closing any doors to going further afield.
How does your battery system work?
We aim to accelerate the transition to electric mobility in cities because we think it is urgent. Therefore, we offer the client the option to be the owner only of the vehicle and activate a subscription for the battery. The battery will be paid based on the use of this battery. The subscription works with a fixed fee of 15 euros monthly as a flat rate. This allows the user to get two full charges, and later on, they will be charged five euros for each additional charge.
How many charging stations have you deployed?
The idea is to grow with a battery station model. We have developed a rack of batteries and are rolling them out in different cities in Spain in 2023. We see it as a game changer for cities because it allows citizens to buy electric vehicles at competitive prices.
By the end of 2023, we will have more than 100 charging stations in all cities around Spain. Later, we'll roll out these battery stations in different European cities.
How can customers charge their vehicles?
As a customer, you have three options to charge your vehicle. First, you can charge it directly in the battery stations throughout the city. Another option is to remove the battery from the vehicle, plug it directly into a home socket, and charge it at home. The battery has a couple of wheels, like a trolley, and you can charge it at home or the office, for example.
And the third one is the swapping option. Clients can swap their batteries in battery stations. As I said, the idea is to roll out a battery station model around Europe, starting from Spain. Here in Barcelona, we’re running an initial pilot test with a petrol station.
In less than one minute, they arrive at the stations, remove the almost empty battery pack from the vehicle, change it for another fully charged one, and once again, they’ve got a range of over 100 kilometers in their vehicle.
Our clients can subscribe to the “battery as a service,” which allows us to reduce the price of the vehicle. In this way, we can reduce more than 40% of the price of the vehicle.
Who are your customers mostly?
There are different kinds of users. One is motor sharing fleets: citizens can use vehicles and only pay by minutes. They pay with an app on their mobile phone. Other users are B2B businesses, mainly last-mile delivery companies using our electric motorcycles.
And then also individuals; in fact, most sales in the electric motorcycles area come from individuals. This trend will continue in the future and is a big piece of the market.
What support did you receive from the Government of Catalonia?
We are extremely pleased because all public administrations are supporting our project at a local, regional, Spanish, and European level. We have a very positive relationship with all the administrations. On our side, it is our duty to contribute to society, generating quality jobs. And this is what we are doing, for instance, in Zona Franca in Barcelona.
What are your goals for the future?
We are working on the second life of our batteries because they can also be used as storage in homes. We can link them to solar panels and store power for your home devices. We think that this battery will close the circle of sustainability. We see great opportunities in this field in the future.
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