Former BMW CFO plans rapid expansion in electric van sector including U.S. plant

Europe

LONDON – Last-mile transportation provider B-On, led by former BMW board member Stefan Krause, plans to build on its acquisition of electric delivery van maker StreetScooter Engineering.

Krause told Automotive News Europe his next aims are to add an electric three-wheel van maker and to develop an “urban mobility” passenger vehicle.

Krause, who was BMW’s chief financial officer and then head of global sales between 2002 and 2008, has also held top-level jobs at Deutsche Post, Deutsche Bank and U.S. EV startups Canoo, Faraday Future and Fisker.

B-On, which was formerly known as Odin Automotive, bought the StreetScooter van family, intellectual property, tooling and the contract with manufacturer Neapco from Deutsche Post in January.  Deutsche Post decided to exit the van making business nearly eight years after buying the German startup in 2014.

B-On will use StreetScooter’s core Work L van, its larger sibling, the Gigabox, and the three-wheel vans to establish a global company focused on selling last-mile delivery solutions, Krause said on the sidelines of the London MOVE 22 urban mobility show.

The StreetScooter name won’t be used on the vehicles.

While Krause didn’t name the three-wheeler company bought by B-On, Automotive News Europe confirmed separately that it was Hong Kong-based Kyto Ventures https://www.kytoventures.com/.

The rickshaw-styled vehicles will be made at a factory in Indonesia, Krause said.

Deutsche Post got into the electric van business after failing to find a suitable vehicle to offer zero-emission urban delivery.

The decision to build the StreetScooter famously annoyed former Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller, who questioned why Deutsche Post hadn’t asked VW first.

Deutsche Post collaborated with Ford to build an XL version of the StreetScooter based on the Transit van, but in 2020 the logistics company announced it would stop making StreetScooters by the end of the year due to the excessive cost.

Deutsche Post, however, continued production of the StreetScooter into 2022.

B-On has a contract to supply the logistics giant and its subsidiary, DHL, with a set number of vans annually. Krause declined to say how many, but the number is understood to be about 3,000 a year.

B-On has a “a lot of expressions of interest” from other companies wanting to buy vans, Krause said.

The company also bought tooling from Deutsche Post to set up a second plant in the U.S., Krause said.

“We can be productive very quickly because we have all the tooling. We just need to find a location,” he added.

Krause has confidence B-On will succeed where other startups have struggled because it bought a company with a track record making vehicles.

“It’s easy to put a prototype together, create a PowerPoint and make a lot of promises,” he said. “The main work is to get up and running. That’s what we have. We have a proven product.”

Krause pointed to the 18,000 StreetScooter vans in current use as evidence.

B-On’s history of product and production will unlock finance from investors who are currently withholding money from startups that haven’t perfected the manufacturing side, Krause added. Current B-On investors include Hitachi Ventures.

B-On is also developing a passenger vehicle “for urban mobility” that Krause promised will be in production by 2024. The vehicle has five seats “with potentially more” for which Krause said B-On has secured more than 100,000 reservations from two large Chinese companies.

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