With the internal combustion engine destined to become a museum piece, the future belongs to alternative drive systems. Just about all vehicle manufacturers are working on major development projects. However, the large automotive firms are mainly focusing on "retrofitting” existing vehicle concepts with hybrid technology. Few specialised manufacturers are developing entirely new, environmentally friendly electric vehicle concepts tailored for specific areas of application, such as postal delivery vehicles or small vehicles for low-emission urban mobility.
Clean Mobile AG from Unterhaching near Munich develops and distributes hybrid drive systems powered by fuel cells for small electric vehicles such as city scooters, bicycles, wheelchairs, rollers and delivery vehicles. As on-board power plants, the so-called range extenders (fuel cells, for example) constantly supply electricity. With high-performance hybrid drive systems from Clean Mobility, the limited range of electric vehicles is eliminated as the key argument against their use. Powered by methanol, they are not only energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but also cost-effective. An electric vehicle can cover a distance of 200 kilometres on one litre of methanol priced at approximately 50 cents.
Clean Mobile not only supplies the essential technical components. The company also supports vehicle manufacturers during the vehicle development stage, so that the drive systems can be optimised to meet their requirements.
Electric vehicles: Environmentally friendly and energy-efficient
Founded in 2006, Clean Mobile quickly gained leading vehicle manufacturers such as Accell and Invacare as its customers. Clean Mobile sells them the complete drive train as well as the energy supply systems for the vehicles. Prototypes have been successfully used for three years already. Several European postal services have been testing the new vehicles since the beginning of 2009.
Patented Clean Mobile technology is of interest for a variety of innovative lightweight vehicles. For electric bicycles alone, estimates for 2010 indicate that far more than 30 million units will be sold worldwide. Favourable growth is also expected for other small vehicles such as urban minis. With these smaller, environmentally friendly vehicles, booming mega-cities can avert the pending collapse of their transport system without having to forgo mobility. Estimates indicate sales potential in the billions for the low-emission transportation technology segment. Clean Mobile is active in several of these growth markets.
The potential of Clean Mobile has not only been recognised by vehicle manufacturers. The company was among the first to be accepted into the national subsidy programme for hydrogen and fuel cells (NOW) of the Federal Ministry of Transport in 2008.
Business development supported by investment capital
Financing for establishing the company in the spring of 2007 was provided by the High-Tech-Gründerfond investment fund and four private investors. Earlybird Venture Capital and the Silicon Valley Technology Group from the USA invested in Clean Mobile in 2008. At the beginning of 2010, the company received follow-up financing from the above-mentioned investors as well as the venture capital investors Emertec Gestion, France and Capital-E, Belgium. The contributed funds allowed the company to successfully complete product development projects for electric bicycles, electric scooters and lightweight cargo vehicles in addition to recruiting its first end customers. Clean Mobile currently employs 26 people. Based on numerous new customer projects, the company expects to quadruple its current sales of just under EUR 2 million in the coming year.