When Belgium-born Raphael Moszynski immigrated to Israel in 2011 from London, where he had worked as a commodities trader for an investment bank, he knew he had to do something with his passion: motorcycles.
One of the things he hated most was being stuck in traffic jams; hence his love for the two-wheelers. So, once in Israel, he set up Blitz Motors, a company that develops fast electric motorbikes, targeted for the corporate market.
“I wanted to do something new,” Moszynski, 32, said in an interview from his firm’s south Tel Aviv garage, which is lined with electric motorbikes created for such companies as Domino’s Pizza and McDonald’s. “I noticed that in the world there are no electric motorbikes that go at high speeds.”
To travel from Tel Aviv to nearby Herzliya, for example, a motorbike needs a speed of 80 kilometers (50 miles) an hour at least, he explained. Most electric vehicles on the road today are not allowed onto highways as they don’t meet the speed requirements, traveling at a maximum of 45-50 kph.
Moreover, mainstream gasoline-based bikes like that of Honda and Piaggio cost a lot in maintenance and spare parts, he said.
“I saw there was a need,” he said. And he jumped on the opportunity.
Blitz produces electric motorbikes that reach a speed of some 120 kph and can drive more than 100,000 kilometers — more than a regular gasoline-based motorbike which has a life of some 60,000 kilometers, he said.
The motorbikes, operated with smartphones, not keys, come in two models: the Blitz 3000, with a 3000W motor which is similar in strength to a 125cc Honda or Piaggio motorbike, and the Blitz 6,000, with a 6,000W motor, similar to a 250cc motorbike.
The bikes are assembled in China, but their design is done in Israel, along with the production of the battery and other electronic parts. “The knowhow and the software are done here, in Israel,” said Moszynski.
The software, including Bluetooth and GPS technologies, keeps tab on the bikes — the idea being that drivers will be more careful knowing they can be monitored. In addition, the bikes are equipped with gyro sensors for help with balance, and they brake when needed. All of this helps lower insurance costs.
The lithium batteries that power the bikes are connected to a battery management system that is designed in Israel and manages the full battery packs, said Moszynski. This technology makes it possible for Blitz to go some 100 kilometers per charge, and to charge up in less than three hours.
The company has just completed testing its bikes in Israel, where there are some 1,600 on the road used mainly for food and package deliveries. Customers in Israel include Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Asian food chain Japanika, the Israel Postal Company, the Israel Police, and the Environment Ministry.
“We are concentrating on corporations” that may be looking for full fleet solutions, said Moszynski. “Our aim is to become a leader in the last mile delivery solution — to the homes — for packages.”
Today these packages are delivered by trucks and vans, which are hobbled by traffic.
Fleet operators like Domino’s can supervise the whole fleet of bikes on their screens, he said, “knowing where their exact location is.”
Avi Luxembourg, the owner of some Pizza Hut branches, said that most of his pizza delivery people use the Blitz bikes and he is “very happy” with them. “We have almost no faults and the environment stays clean.”
The bikes don’t need oil or fuel or as much maintenance, he added, saving Pizza Hut “a lot of money, some 30% of costs.” The chain has bought some 15 bikes and hopes to increase the number shortly, he said.
Blitz now believes it is ready for the mass market and is looking to expand its activities in Europe and India, said Moszynski. The company hopes to set up its European HQ in Belgium in June, and in Bangalore, India, later this year.
“In India, the assembly of the motorbikes will be done locally, and we are already setting up a distribution model suitable for the local market,” he said. The bikes for European distribution will continue to be assembled in China.
Blitz has entered into an agreement with Flex Ltd., a provider of electronics manufacturing services, to start mass manufacturing some of the components needed for the motorbikes, Moszynski said.
Moszynski also hopes to be able to offer his bikes as scooter rentals, charged per minute. “We are hoping to start a ridesharing program in Europe and Israel, together with a strong local partner.”
The firm, set up in 2012, has been privately funded by Moszynski, who is now looking for a strategic partner to boost its international distribution plans. “It could be a strategic venture capital fund partner or an industrial partner,” he said. “More than money, we are looking for smart money” from a partner that will also help set out the strategy and implement it.
Even so, isn’t the use of these bikes a bit moot now, as deliveries are moving in the direction of delivery drones? Amazon, for example, is boasting that its drone delivery system will be able to get packages to customers safely in 30 minutes or less, while Israeli startup Flytrex is already using drones to supply sushi, hamburgers and beer to hungry Icelanders.
There is a lot of hype around drone delivery services, said Moszynski, but the regulatory framework is still very strict. The way forward, he said, amid high fuel emissions and huge traffic, is with the electric bikes.
Based on the success the firm has had in the Israeli market, Moszynski said, he is confident in the success of his venture. “The question is not will it work out, but how well will it work out.”