How Tesla & Elon Musk Inspired Me To Start An Electric Vehicle Company

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Originally published on EVANNEX.
By Michael Schoening, President, CityFreighter Inc.

I’ve followed Tesla for years. I like Elon, and I love SpaceX. Every time I traveled from Germany to Los Angeles my first destination was always a little industrial area in Hawthorne, 10 minutes from LAX. SpaceX is located there. It’s entirely different compared to my previous visits to the massive operations at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The Tesla Design Center and the Hyperloop test track are located there as well. I always come away inspired.

Source: CityFreighter Inc.

During these LA trips, my regularly scheduled second stop was the Tesla store in Santa Monica. I was enamored with the store’s display of the open chassis frame of the Model S. I was fascinated by this perfectly engineered, large piece of technology, mostly made of aluminum. I loved it.

I ordered my Model X two years ahead of launch. The first time I saw it was during one of my trips to the Hawthorne area on a Sunday morning behind the large glass entrance doors of the Tesla Design Center. That day I also asked Elon to connect on LinkedIn. And a couple hours later we were connected! The text I got from Elon was that I should contact him if I ever need any help in business … it made my day.

 My Model X (Photo: Michael Schoening)

My Model X (see above) was delivered in Germany in October 2016. I’ve experienced 65,000 trouble-free kilometers so far — I enjoy driving it every day and I won’t be switching to another car anytime soon. My wife is waiting for her Model 3. We ordered it on its launch day at a Tesla store in the Netherlands.

When I got my Model X and experienced the day-to-day life of an electric vehicle owner, recognizing its intrinsic advantages, I started thinking about entering the EV industry myself. Electro-mobility is a disruptive technology. It offers a lot of room to innovate and change the world.

Source: CityFreighter Inc.

I don’t know why, but my focus immediately went to commercial trucks. I envisioned the possibilities surrounding the electrification of commercial trucks for last-mile distribution.

Last-mile logistics are facing a myriad of future challenges ahead. One reason: eCommerce is exploding. And, by 2030, 70% of all people will live in bigger cities. Also, there’s an increasing shortage of drivers. The demand for sustainable, compact, pollution-free commercial vehicles is steadily growing. Furthermore, upcoming regulatory changes for inner-city traffic will lead to a rapid increase in the sale of commercial, electric trucks for urban deliveries. All of that is taking place against a backdrop of a market estimated globally at $729 billion by 2028 — 35% of that market will be generated from urban light-duty truck sales.

Source: CityFreighter Inc.

After extensive market research, I decided it might make sense to form a joint venture with a sizable Chinese brand. One day, during multiple visits to truck factories, I was watching the assembly line at one of China’s leading truck manufacturers, Foton, and discovered, “There’s no magic recipe here.”

Afterwards, I developed a modular concept, a new brand, and decided to outsource production to reliable suppliers in order to concentrate on R&D and final assembly — a way to start an automotive manufacturing company with relatively low investment by leveraging the inherent advantages of e-mobility.

Source: CityFreighter Inc.

Since then, a lot has happened. The team has been built, the concept has been detailed (perhaps you’ll recognize some inspiration from Tesla when seeing our interior design concepts), and here we are. CityFreighter Inc., with our corporate office in Santa Barbara, CA, was founded in June 2018.

To finance our prototype, we’re currently running a public offering. Our exciting journey has just begun and, now, you can be part of it as well.

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