Voltra Motors, the manufacturer of the first Cambodia-made electric motorbike, has officially opened its doors to the public.
The launching comes nearly a year after the company was registered with the Ministry of Commerce and two years after the patent for the Voltra brand received government approval.
The elaborate ceremony yesterday, which also launched the company’s innovative and environmentally-friendly product, drew many dignitaries to the Voltra Motors headquarters and showroom close to the Orusey Market in Phnom Penh.
Bjorn Haggmark, the Swedish Ambassador to Cambodia, E Vuthy, deputy secretary general of the General Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development, Philippe Baudry, head of the economic department at the French Embassy, and Pily Wong, board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, were among the VIPs who graced the occasion.
In his message, Mr Vuthy congratulated Voltra Motors and said Cambodia stands to benefit from it in many ways. “This will not only benefit the environment, but also the Kingdom’s economy and industry,” he stressed.
“I hope other companies will follow this initiative,” he added.
Mr Baudry extolled the virtues of the electric motorbike and said vehicles like the ones produced by Voltra Motors will go a long way in helping Cambodia become a great place to live in.
Voltra Motors is the brainchild of Yann Vaudin, a French engineer who has been residing in Cambodia for the last six years. Mr Vaudin also owns and operates the Siem Reap-based Green e-Bike, which in 2014 became the first ever electric bike rental business in Cambodia.
“I wanted to help the economy and also create a product that will not harm the environment,” said Mr Vaudin in a prior interview.
Pollution is a serious problem in this country of 16 million people. Pollution is most severe in the Kingdom’s urban areas, including Phnom Penh, where a growing population, proliferation of factories and presence of more than a million motorbikes combine to worsen the problem.
At first, according to Mr Vaudin, they will import most of the parts from other parts of Asia then assemble them at their manufacturing site close to Phnom Penh International Airport.
“These parts are made according to European standards, while the assembly will be under French supervision at all times to ensure quality control,” he pointed out. “Later on, we will start manufacturing the parts locally.”
The Voltra e-bike, according to Mr Vaudin, is much better than the conventional gasoline-powered motorbikes that are common on Cambodia’s roads. Motorbikes comprise the majority of the more than five million registered vehicles in the Kingdom.
He said that, aside from being environmentally-friendly, the Voltra e-bike is much cheaper to buy and easier to drive on and off the road. “It is two times cheaper than the average motorbike,” he noted.
He said that operation of the Voltra e-bike is cheap, simple and straightforward, with the owner spared of high maintenance costs associated with operating motor vehicles. “It doesn’t use oil, it doesn’t use gasoline, it doesn’t use filters and it doesn’t need maintenance,” he stressed.
With a full battery, according to him, the Voltra e-bike can run for 50 kilometres or more. “The battery is removable, so you can charge it anywhere as long as there is a power source,” he pointed out.
To help local people, especially women, Mr Vaudin used battery bags purchased from Cambodian Women’s Support Group, an NGO dedicated to helping unemployed women.
The programme to build the Voltra e-bike has gathered the support of private companies and various governmental and non-governmental agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme, Acleda Bank and Pour un Sourire d’Enfant.
Mr Vaudin said interest in the Voltra e-bike has grown significantly, with the Swedish Embassy and Agence Francaise de Developpement ordering a couple for their own use.