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Berlin to go, english edition, 03/2019

  • Text
  • Loadster
  • Citkar
  • Startup
  • Hoppegarten
  • Marketing
  • Berlin

STARTUP Jonas Kremer,

STARTUP Jonas Kremer, founder and CEO of citkar, with one of his Loadsters I’M A BICYCLE – COME ABOARD! The Loadster might look like a small car, but it’s actually a bicycle Text: Ines Hein It was a rainy day in 2013. Jonas Kremer was on his way home in the pouring rain with his groceries when he saw a little kid whizzing by on one of those four-wheeled pedal cars known in Germany as a Kettcar. That was the moment Kremer came up with the idea for a sit-down bicycle that had a roof and was able to transport cargo at the same time. It was the birth of citkar, a bicycle now making a splash on bike paths everywhere. We paid a visit to the e-mobility startup citkar at MotionLab.Berlin. Co-working spaces continue to sprout up everywhere in Berlin like mushrooms. There’s hardly a neighborhood in the city that hasn’t witnessed the transformation of some old factory hall into an agile, open-space office. At first glance, the MotionLab.Berlin in Kreuzberg doesn’t look much different from all the other ones. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll see that this site offers members of the startup community Europe’s largest hardware co-working space. In addition to the regular meeting rooms and coffee bar, it has become a real makerspace featuring a product garage and four areas with opportunities for 3D printing and work on metal, wood and electronics. At the heart of this site – with its old-factory flair and ideal location along the shores of the Spree River in Treptow – sits the e-mobility startup citkar. Thanks to his youthful appearance, company founder Jonas Kremer is Poto: © citkar GmbH, 2019 30

often asked at entrepreneurship events and conferences what he wants to study when he finishes high school. “I usually respond by telling them that I’m the CEO of citkar and the boss of twelve employees!” he explains, laughing. Kremer first came up with the idea for a bicycle with a canopy, comfortable seat and cargo-transporting abilities back in 2013. Initially financed with funds from family members and designed for private use, the idea quickly turned into a startup that today focuses on B2B customers. This was the moment at which Jonas Kremer, who had been working at the federal Chancellery up until that point, became an entrepreneur. The citkar then emerged in close cooperation with his growing team. The bicycle was quickly renamed the “Loadster” and its prototype presented on the red carpet at the Velo Berlin tradeshow last year. That same summer, Kremer succeeded in finding a large investor for his startup. Since then, citkar has been working tirelessly on bringing the Loadster to maturity. Kremer and his team are all about details: the bicycle design originated with invivo Design in Berlin-Pankow, the high-end brakes are from the premium bike equipment manufacturer Magura, and the e-engine is from Mando in South Korea. “We attach a great deal of importance to direct feedback loops,” explains Kremer with regard to the principle of “iterative optimization.” This means that the function and design of the Loadster are improved in loops. Nothing is overlooked and nothing is left to chance when equipping the innovative new vehicle in the most optimal way possible. It’s not surprising that citkar received the German Design Award this year, with series production set to get underway this fall – between 500 and 50,000 bikes per year, everything is scalable. “Working on citkar means working on the future. The mobile revolution of the 21st century is going to take place on bike paths as well” predicts Kremer, who then refers to the platform for urban mobility that has emerged under the citkar brand name. The citkar team is driven by urbanity. Not least because so many people call Berlin home, a place where same-day delivery services and on-the-road services, such as home-care and cargo messengers, depend on fast paths through the city. For the first time ever, the Loadster allows these people to move effectively from the road to the bike path. The underlying principles of the Loadster aren’t even new. “E-bikes have been around for a while, as have cargo bikes,” explains Kremer. “We simply rearranged their components. The biggest difference lies in the driving pleasure. You have to try it to find out!” And trying-out is actually quite easy to do. Every Saturday between 10 am and 2pm, visitors can take the Loadster out for a test drive at the MotionLab.Berlin. The stable, fully-sprung vehicle has a smooth drive and a trunk box behind the driver’s seat. With a length of 260 cm and a width of 99 cm, the Loadster fits remarkably well on the bicycle paths and can move payloads of up to 250 kg including the driver. It also has up to 50 km of battery-operated performance per replaceable battery (2 slots) and a charging time of almost two hours at a home power station. The Loadster is a rival to any small car, cargo bike or messenger e-bike. Especially in the rain. Because it looks like a small car, in order to avoid any misunderstandings, it has the following words emblazoned on its back: “I am a bicycle.” “The greatest advantage of the Loadster is that almost anyone can drive it, even people who don’t have a driver’s license,” explains Kremer, also pointing out the bike’s positive cost balance. “A caddy costs roughly €1.20 per kilometer. With the loadster, we move somewhere between 15 and 25 cents.” The latest sales trends in the area of bike mobility prove him right. In 2018, roughly 36,000 e-cars were newly registered. In that same year, roughly 980,000 e-bikes left the stores, of which an estimated 39,200 were e-cargobikes, thus reflecting a whopping 80% market growth (Source: ZIV e.V.). Citkar is committed to urban mobility based on sustainable standards. They’re also committed to Berlin as a key location for innovation. As a startup Mecca and an ever-transforming capital city, Berlin is the perfect place for pioneering work on innovative mobility solutions. “Berlin is a laboratory. The city and its inhabitants are incredibly creative and open minded. They have no fear of new trends, and their approach is always ‘Let’s just do it!’ The same goes for us. Berlin now has a great opportunity to become a key center for alternative mobility. We’re driving this development forward.” 31

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