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Meet the Fleet – UBCO

by Drive Electric | Nov 13, 2023 | Commercial Case Study

Meet the Fleet – UBCO

UBCO’s macro plans for electric micro-mobility!

Micro-mobility refers to small two or three-wheeler vehicles such as bikes, mopeds, scooters and motorcycles. It’s the most electrified vehicle market segment in the world today, with 10 times as many electric scooters, mopeds and motorcycles on the road as electric cars.

As urban populations grow over the coming decades, electric micro-mobility will play an increasingly important role in decongestion and emissions reduction; it’s an ideal solution for many commuters and commercial operators.

To date, electric micro-mobility adoption has not progressed as rapidly in Aotearoa New Zealand as it has globally, but that’s sure to change with innovators like UBCO entering the on-road market.

Drive Electric recently caught up with Katherine Sandford, Business Development Director at UBCO, to find out about trailblazing a new category of vehicle, a stunning reduction in carbon impact and big plans for the future.

Tell us about UBCO

“Our adventure began in a Wairarapa farm shed when Daryl Neal and Anthony Clyde set out to create an efficient and practical electric bike strong enough to tackle the everyday challenges of farms in Aotearoa New Zealand. Together with entrepreneurial co-founder Timothy Allan, they established UBCO (pronounced ubb-ko), and created a new category of vehicle: electric utility bikes.

“UBCO bikes, known as 2X2s, are electric workhorses with great environmental credentials; they’re sturdy, light, quiet and surprisingly powerful. There’s no wonder 2x2s are steadily supplanting traditional motorbikes on farms and DOC trails across the country.

“We have a track record spanning five product generations and global appeal. With over 5,000 in the wild, we’ve discovered that 2x2s are also perfect for a variety of on-road applications too. We’re gaining popularity in postal and freight delivery services and urban commuting, and we’re the vehicle of choice for Domino’s Pizza in New Zealand!”

What are the advantages of 2x2s over petrol-powered motorbikes and mopeds?

“Electric utility bikes produce zero tailpipe emissions, helping to reduce air pollution and combat climate change. They are a cleaner and greener transportation option, regardless of where they are ridden.

“We recently commissioned a study by independent carbon-measurement specialists, The Lever Room, to establish how our 2x2s measured-up against comparable vehicles in terms of carbon emission and operating cost reduction.

“Compared over 50,000km with diesel, petrol and hybrid-powered cars, petrol-powered motorbikes and mopeds, the 2x2s offered an extraordinary reduction of up to 98% in carbon impact!

“Another advantage is the significantly lower total cost of ownership than petrol-powered alternatives, which makes them an economically viable choice, especially for fleets. Electricity is cheaper than petrol, and electric bikes have fewer moving parts, significantly reducing fuel, maintenance and repair expenses.”

Are 2x2s really safer and quieter?

“They have a low centre of gravity making it easier to keep the bike upright, the adjustable suspension helps to improve handling and stability, and they’re light enough to easily lift over a kerb, onto the back of a ute or onto a towball-mounted bike rack.

“The ‘learner mode’ on the UBCO App (for Apple and Android) reduces the maximum speed and provides balanced power output. This delivers extra safety for beginners or younger drivers, and having no external drivetrain means there are no chains or hot surfaces, which are notorious for causing injuries. As well, the bike batteries and charging connectors are protected by high-calibre dual-safety systems.

“The 2x2s make very little noise and, if you’re in the great outdoors, you’ll be able to hear the sounds of the landscape around you without disturbing stock or wildlife. This all adds up to them being a more sustainable and versatile choice for limitless applications.”

Where are UBCO 2x2s being used in Aotearoa New Zealand?

“They’re cruising on city streets and navigating rough farmland!

“In fleets, their accessibility, durability, sustainability and low operational fuel costs are ideal. The Port Hills and Banks Peninsula Regional Parks rangers utilise their 2×2 to patrol almost anywhere and help Christchurch City Council to reach its sustainable policy goals.

“In delivery service, businesses are reaping the environmental and economic benefits of switching to 2x2s. Domino’s Pizza knows that UBCO bikes are advantageous over cars when it comes to deliveries.

“According to Cameron Toomey, former CEO, Domino’s NZ: “…they are faster through heavy traffic, parking isn’t an issue, they’re cheaper to run, and more environmentally friendly. Our delivery teams safely deliver thousands of pizzas each week and we see the UBCO bikes as an important part of our fleet going forward.”

“In staff commuter fleets, 2x2s provide a lower cost, more efficient alternative to the traditional ‘company car’, require a lot less parking space and give city-based staff the opportunity to smoothly navigate rush-hour traffic.”

Given kiwis have a propensity for short solo trips, there’s a huge opportunity to ‘mode shift’ while travelling and commuting in our urban areas.  How is UBCO reshaping our urban micro-mobility and how will it help the country meet its emissions targets?

“Transport accounts for 38% of our carbon emissions. Fleet electrification at scale is the fastest way to reach our emissions reduction targets.

“With cash flow and environmental sustainability top of mind for responsible businesses, UBCO has a mission to replace petrol-driven fleets with electric motorcycles. Providing fleets at scale to a range of different businesses both urban and rural, on and off road in New Zealand is our goal.

“One hundred thousand UBCO 2x2s throughout Aotearoa New Zealand will make a significant impact. The carbon and fuel cost savings alone, regardless of the increased safety and maintenance costs, will be unprecedented.

“If we can achieve these kinds of reductions across 50,000 farms and agricultural businesses in New Zealand, we will deliver a measurable difference.

“And if we can double down on that with large-scale urban fleets, we will be contributing significantly toward the emission reductions that Aotearoa New Zealand needs to deliver across its transport infrastructure to meet the targets.”

What needs to happen to prove the efficacy of UBCO’s plan?

“We need policy makers to recognise and include electric motorbikes and mopeds within the EV sector when it comes to writing policy, planning, funding and investment.”

How can people seize the opportunity to take a 2×2 for a spin?

“To discover the ease and fun of riding an UBCO first hand visit UBCO, complete the short form and your nearest dealer will contact you directly to begin your adventure.”