Weaving through traffic on an electric three-wheeler

Tremola AG is set to begin producing the first series of its electric three-wheeled vehicle in 2014. The vehicle combines classic motorcycle with tilting technology, and Tremola hopes to sell 20 vehicles in the first year. As Lukas Studer reports, the company from Glarus in Switzerland is the story of two childhood friends.

FINAL GRAFIK

It is a place that encourages fiddling about: Tools, plans, and bits and pieces of different parts lie on workbenches, while a table and computer stand in the corner. The first Tremola prototype was built in this workshop located in the backyard of Max Schilling AG in Bilten in the Canton of Glarus. After five years in development, Tremola now has a range of 80 to 100 kilometres. The electric scooter weighs 250 kilograms and requires four times less space than a regular car. The electric vehicle with three wheels is also the first in the world to combine tilting technology with a classic electric motorcycle. Now that all the necessary approvals have been obtained, Tremola is finally arriving on the market.

Potential buyers show great interest

The first series will go into production in spring 2014. The debut version will cost around 20,000 francs, placing it well within the range of normal market prices. The biggest cost item is the battery. There was a near absence of industrial-grade products for the longest time. Finally, in the past three years there has been a lot of activity in the industry, says Andreas Tinner, one of the two members of the management committee. “And now each month there’s a new approach to battery technology.” Tremola is confident that batteries will continue to drop in price while at the same time have a higher energy density.

There are already five buyers waiting for their Tremola, and around a hundred more are showing a great deal of interest. The target of selling 20 scooters in the first year will likely be reached. Every number on top of that would be a huge success. “The market is probably not yet ripe enough,” says Oliver Dürr, CEO and founder of Tremola AG. But if demand is higher than expected, then production volume can easily be increased thanks to Max Schilling AG: The Glarner specialist for tool making and mechanical engineering is letting its subsidiary use its employees and machines.

A lean and green machine

Oliver Dürr and Andreas Tinner are childhood friends. Growing up in the Rhine Valley, they went to school together and even completed their apprenticeships in the same field: mechanical engineering. Later, both went on to train in technical business administration. Their professional lives parted ways only when Dürr went on to establish his own company for automobile parts at the age of 26. Ten years later, Dürr sold his company and took over Max Schilling AG, including the role of CEO.

Childhood friend Tinner, who spent more than ten years working as a project manager for Asia, was brought on board to implement an idea that a developer had come up with during their apprenticeship. In the 1990s, an emergency vehicle could not drive between the rows of cars because there was such a heavy traffic jam. Surely it should be possible to produce a compact vehicle with more than two wheels and yet which is also at the same time safe. Later came the idea of powering the space-saving three-wheel vehicle from an electrical outlet.

Mass production was always in mind

In 2010, Max Schilling AG founded Tremola AG to carry out this ambitious project. A trade name, patents and a business plan were all needed. Tinner took over the first floor in the backyard of the parent company so he could begin developing the Tremola scooter on a full-time basis. Today there are three employees who work exclusively on Tremola.

The goal was always to produce the project on a larger scale. “Mass production was always in mind,” says Andreas Tinner. The challenge has been to use parts which can either be manufactured by Max Schilling AG machines or which are readily available on the procurement market.

Innovation will go on

Tremola will continue to evolve. In the future, the three-wheeled electric scooter could also be used as a two-wheeled scooter: When driving on two wheels, if the rider slows down to a walking pace, the scooter would automatically go into three-wheel mode for better stability.
“We can already implement this system from a technical perspective, but the real challenge is human perception,” says Oliver Dürr. People do not always feel comfortable when a machine self-corrects its equilibrium.

And Tremola won’t be the last achievement from the two boys from Bilten. The founding fathers are unanimous: “It should not be a one-project venture.” Should Tremola find enough buyers, a second vehicle will soon be born in Bilten.

 

Picture credit: Tremola

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