HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE ELLWEE IN UNDER 5 WORDS?
Viggo Hansson: Fun, affordable and very versatile.
Mathias Lindmark: Well then, to complement Viggo’s words I would say agile, reliable and long-range.
WHO DO YOU THINK THE ELLWEE IS FOR?
Viggo: Its for all generations of a family, from 15 years old and up. It could be used for commuting and for easier work around your villa for the parent, for recreation and fun for the teenager or perhaps even for an elderly person that might not get out as much as he or she would like to? This is what we believe makes our product so interesting – and that’s only looking briefly at the consumer side. When it comes to B2B there are many potential areas, for example resorts, hospitals, airports and in smart city solutions where electric vehicles to a larger degree get integrated into the community itself.
Mathias: That’s beside targeting golf courses and golfers. Golf is our main focus area for 2017, partly because we have identified a need for affordable single person vehicles in that segment. The golf cart industry is changing and we aim to play a part in that.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE ELLWEE? WHAT INSPIRED YOU DECIDE TO START WORKING ON ELLWEE?
Viggo: Before Ellwee, I was in the online business, specifically running web shops. Amongst other things, I have been importing and selling a variety of things from China online. For a period of time, I imported a single person golf cart from China. However, it was evident that the quality was very hard to uphold. Although, I understood that a single person vehicle raised substantial interest from many Swedish golf course owners. So I brought in Mathias, and we decided to build our own focusing on quality and reliability.
Mathias: I’m mainly from the online business field as well. Until recently, I have been involved in another start-up focusing on building a global gaming platform. When Viggo approached me to see If was interested in starting this company with him, I didn’t even blink: The idea to conceptualise, develop, manufacture and sell an affordable and Swedish made electric multi purpose vehicle is really intriguing to me and something I felt I had to be part of.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE JOURNEY YOU’VE HAD SO FAR.
Mathias: Well, the short story is that we began with conceptualising and raising money during spring/summer 2015. Early on we employed skilled personnel who previously had been working with electric car development at the SAAB factory in Trollhättan. We finished our first prototype, which we jokingly decided to call V2 (version 2) because of it’s innovative concept, in October 2015. The next prototype was ready in April 2016.
Viggo: Yeah, I remember those early prototypes very well. Compared to where we are today with V6, now ready for production, it almost feels like another lifetime. To sum it up, we have been very effective in managing to build a high quality Swedish vehicle in a very short period of time.
WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
Viggo: Similar to many other start-ups, I would probably say that scarce resources has been a major factor. Time delays and sourcing difficulties in the early development phases also made life a bit more difficult for us. A real pride during this whole journey for me is that any problem that has come up has also been dealt with – even if it’s meant very long hours away from our families or limited sleep… On that note, I also want to thank to our business angels, mechanics on the floor, business incubator Innovatum, as well as governmental support from Västra Götalands Region, Almi Företagspartner and Vinnova – we have been given financial and practical help in so many ways. That’s been key, really.
Mathias: I agree completely and when it comes to the development of the vehicle, we could not have done this without Conny Land, our leading mechanical engineer for almost a year. His previous experience in the field from Volvo PowerTrain and other places has been invaluable, throughout this period of time.
HOW DO YOU TWO COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER SKILL-WISE?
Mathias: I would say that we have similarities when it comes to the ability sell a vision and idea to people. I would say though, that Viggo has been the company “bull terrier”, relentlessly driving the development of the vehicle and project forward, thankfully. I’m a bit more academic and have been focusing on our financing and organizational matters.
Viggo: That’s true, haha, I’m the guy who makes the calls to everyone, and Mathias sums it up in writing. He calls me ‘the cable guy’ sometimes… But seriously, the working relationship has been great. I think Mathias complements my strengths with his ability and experience to get investors and institutions on our side.
YOU’RE A SWEDISH COMPANY, WITH MANUFACTURING BASED IN TROLLHÄTTAN – A CITY STRONGLY ASSOCIATED WITH AUTOMOBILE GIANT SAAB. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? WAS IT A CHOICE OR COINCIDENCE?
Viggo: I would say that it began as coincidence, but ended up a choice. It started back when I imported Chinese golf carts and a group of golf enthusiasts and former SAAB employees approached me to buy a few from me. When Mathias and I started this company we quickly realised that we should stay in Trollhättan, an area in which electric car craftsmanship and industry knowledge is probably more substantial than anywhere else in Sweden. Specifically, we have noticed that in and around the Trollhättan municipal, there is a willingness to support a new generation of automotive companies.
WHO CAME UP WITH THE NAME? IS THERE A STORY THERE?
Mathias: Actually, neither of us came up with the name alone. The name came while we were having a brainstorming session with an early potential partner. Albeit, that Viggo and I decided on the spelling of it. Basically the name is a combination of Electric and Vehicle, spelled in a modern way – ELL-WEE.
WHERE DO YOU SEE ELLWEE IN 5 YEARS?
Viggo: In five years I envision Ellwee to have become a global company active in many markets, having a several different models that attend to different needs in different markets. One such market, is the elderly care. We believe that elderly people with minor to moderate mobility issues, not necessarily want to be identified or even have the need for expensive handicap- vehicles on the market today. This would be a great complement for them.
Mathias: We share the same vision for the company, and being committed to a sustainable future, means that we in five years has begun a journey in which we take part in building a society or “smart cities” that rely less on fossil fuel and more in electric solutions/share economy.
The Ellwee Multi Purpose Vehicle is equally great on the golf course, for transportation to work or recreation and fun at home. We are currently taking pre-orders.