Omeed Badkoobeh currently serves as the sales and marketing chief for Evoke Motorcycles, a Chinese electric motorcycle company based in Beijing. He also handles social media and the user experience for new motorcycle company.
Omeed is using his experience working in sales for Tesla, the most successful electric car company to date, in the United States to better promote electric motorcycles in Asia.
To get a better idea of what Evoke is trying to accomplish, Omeed’s background, and the Chinese electric vehicle market we decided to sit down and do an interview with him.
Electric Motorcycle Club – So Omeed, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Omeed Badkoobeh – I am an American but of mixed background. I have lived in 4 different countries and traveled to over two dozen. I really enjoy traveling and learning about different ways of life around the globe. I see the world shrinking and people coming together from all backgrounds now more than ever. I have been living in China for a total time of 3 years with a great deal of travel back and forth. I come from a background in solar energy where I designed and sold systems for homes and business. More recently, I worked in sales for Tesla Motors. My wife and I decided to relocate to China where her field of work is very preferable and I can focus on an entrepreneurial initiative. I have had an entrepreneurial bug inside of me ever since I was a small child and I needed a space to reach this potential.
EMC – What got you interested in electric vehicles?
OB – I have always been passionate about electric transportation and it truly goes hand and hand with the advancement of renewable energy. They sell each other. Some may ask why I left a job at Tesla to work on a start-up developing electric motorcycles. The answer is simple. While electric cars are great and the Model S is an amazing piece of machinery, it can be very inefficient with only one or two passengers. Imagine that you are propelling over 2 tons of weight to make a grocery store stop. The highest cost in electric vehicles is the battery. Our Urban S100 model has 1/10 the battery of a Tesla Model 70D, so you are getting from point A to B much more efficiently. The problem however lies with the preserved danger of riding two-wheeled transport in most countries. The main reason that electric two-wheeled transport has done so well in China and Taiwan is that they are actually safer to ride than other places, specifically the U.S. I know that this might sound crazy to hear, but it is simply a question of numbers. Chinese car drivers are generally more aware of two-wheeled commuters and most cities have planned specific lanes for them. Before all the cars, a great deal of people commuted with bicycles. This is very different in other countries that have to work backwards in creating safer two-wheeled transport systems. This issue most be addressed by governments that are serious about making a positive environmental impact.
EMC – So you use a bike to get around Beijing?
OB – In China, my main mode of transportation is a scooter that I modified to have more power and a higher top speed.
EMC – What’s been the most interesting cultural differences or shock you’ve experienced as an American living in China?
OB – Living in China, everyday is a learning experience. My biggest shock has been learning how to adjust to Chinese driving culture, stinky tofu, and the busy subways.
EMC – About Evoke Motorcycles, why did you want to get involved with an electric motorcycle company?
OB – I initially set out to create a business to export higher end scooters to other markets. I soon meet Nathan and decided to work together on Evoke with a focus on motorcycles.
EMC – Does anyone think you are crazy for getting involved in the electric bike industry? The market is huge in China but it still seems like a risky venture.
OB – Working at a start-up is always risky and not everyone is into taking big risk, however most people have been supportive.
EMC – What are the advantage to use electric motorcycles over gas powered motorcycles?
OB – Brushless electric motors are more than 90% efficient in transferring stored energy into motion vs the internal combustion engine which generally have a 25-30% efficiency in turning gasoline into motion. No fumes, no smells, very little sound, what is not to like.
EMC – Why do you think electric scooters are so much popular in China and Asia? In other countries, especially North America, it’s hard to find many for sale or available.
OB – I had wondered this same question for long time. Electric scooters are awesome, why haven’t taken they off in other countries. I have narrowed it down to two main reasons. First, until recently, most electric scooters on the Chinese market were too slow and not powerful enough. Recently, more manufacturers have developed faster and more powerful units by increasing the voltages and switching to lighter lithium ion batteries. Second is government policy and public acceptance. Most Chinese cities have special lanes for bikes and electric scooters. This make riding much safer and efficient. In the smaller, more rural places, cars have learned how share the road with bikes and scooters. Chinese have a history of using bicycles for all sorts of transportation.
EMC – Is it difficult to find places to charge an electric vehicle in China?
OB – It can be more difficult to find charging in bigger cities, however, electric motorcycles and scooters are far easier to charge than cars. Any standard outlet will do. Most people charge at home or their work place.
EMC – What experiences are you using from working at Tesla to help you with building electric motorcycles?
OB – Our development path is very similar to Tesla. The Urban S100 is built on an existing rolling chassis and we are outfitting our technology into it. Of course, our plan is to build motorcycles from the ground up.
EMC – Being an American, what’s your view of selling electric motorcycles in the United States? Do you think there is a market and can you be successful?
OB – We are currently in the research stage. The U.S is a great option because the Urban S competes well with other 150cc motorcycles and is almost half the price of other electric motorcycles on the market.
EMC – What’s a book that’s had a profound affect on you, helped your, or changed your outlook on life?
OB – I recently read “Chinese Rules” by Tim Clissold. It is a great book for someone who wants to better understand China. The author does a great job explaining the Chinese perspective in context with historical events. It made me have a greater understanding and appreciation for China.
EMC – Do you have any advice, personal of professional, that you’d like to share? It could be something you’ve learned or something that someone taught or told you that helped your in your life.
OB – We are all connected in some way or another to everyone else on this planet. Spend your time searching for similarities rather than differences and you will generally be a happier person.
END OF INTERVIEW
We want to thank Omeed for taking the time to answer our questions and do this interview for Electric Motorcycle Club sharing his insight. If you want to read more about Evoke Motorcycles you can also check out our interview with Nathan Siy, the founder.
Do you have questions for Omeed? Perhaps on something I did not ask or did not elaborate on, or maybe you are curious about a topic we did not discuss. Feel free to leave a comment below. We will have him come back and answer questions when he is available.