We talked to Adrian Patzak of MOLABO about electric drive capable of delivering high power.
First of all, how are you doing in these COVID-19 times?
Adrian Patzak: The lockdown in spring and work from home were challenging for us. I am very proud of our team. Despite the difficult circumstances, we were able to make the best out of it to push forward with the development of our first product, ISCAD V50. We got through the time without short-time work and can now offer our first product.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded MOLABO?
Adrian Patzak: After receiving my Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 2011, I joined the chair for electrical drives and actuators of Professor Gerling at the Universität der Bundeswehr München. I was working on Automotive Power Systems, Electric Machines and Control there. During that time, I met Florian Bachheibl, who also worked as a chair’s research assistant. The first idea about the new drive technology Intelligent Stator Cage Drive (ISCAD), was born. Together with Prof. Dieter Gerling, we set up two working prototypes based on the new technology. After a successful demonstration, Prof. Gerling, Florian, and I took courage and founded MOLABO in 2016.
What is your innovation?
Adrian Patzak: MOLABO’s 48 Volt concept is different in many aspects from conventional electric drives. So far, all high-power electric drive systems need a very high battery voltage of up to 800 V so that they can develop the performance needed for electric vehicles. With our innovation ISCAD (Intelligent Stator Cage Drive), high performance can now be achieved for the first time at safe-to-touch voltages of 48 Volt.
The technology is based on a new electric motor structure: instead of complicated windings, solid bars are used, which form a kind of cage. This set up makes it possible to produce very large quantities of the motor more simply and cheaply than with wound electric motors. Due to the stator cage design with the bars, ISCAD is also more robust and fail-safe than conventional electric drives since the operation is still possible even if one or more phases fail.
A low voltage system has many advantages because contact is possible without risk. Contact with a high-voltage system, on the other hand, can be life-threatening if appropriate safety precautions are not taken. This also entails risks in the event of an accident if rescue teams cannot approach the electric vehicle without risk. Low-voltage systems can be integrated and maintained without special high-voltage training. ISCAD thus stands for much simpler and more robust electric drives than state of the art. This safe and easy to use technology enables large-scale electric mobility even in emerging markets with lower technical standards.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Adrian Patzak: The Corona crisis has had a noticeable impact on our company, as it had on the whole economy. We have been working very closely with the automotive industry for years, and both OEMs and suppliers have been severely affected. Several of our projects were put on hold at short notice in this situation. We observe that the corona crisis is significantly accelerating the transformation of the automotive industry towards sustainable drives and renewable energies. In September, the market share of electric cars in German new registrations was 8.0%, an increase of 260% compared to September 2019. Car manufacturers that benefit from this boom are mainly outside Germany. We used the last few months to develop our first market-ready product, which is already available for purchase.
How do you currently finance MOLABO?
Adrian Patzak: Since its foundation, MOLABO GmbH has been able to finance itself through studies and development projects with several suppliers and OEMs. At the end of 2019, we successfully closed our first financing round with the family-owned company Hechinger. With the Hechinger Group as a strategic investor, we were able to secure funding for the product launch and but created synergies in the areas of industrialization and production.
Are you interested in further investors? And if so, who in your opinion are the ideal partners?
Adrian Patzak: With the current investment, we can qualify, certify, and market our first product for the boat sector. Our first drive, ISCAD V50, will be approved for use in boats and yachts in accordance with the Recreational Craft Directive. We are now looking for a further investor to scale the distribution of the first product and qualify the technology for further applications. We are open to both strategic partners and investors.
What topic is currently on your desk?
Adrian Patzak: There are many topics, but a large share of my time is currently invested in our first product’s marketing and sales. We are setting up many electric and hybrid boat projects with customers, and furthermore, we develop our distribution and service network right now.
Your final thoughts?
Adrian Patzak: Be bold and do not hesitate too much when uncertainties are there. Take risks and seize opportunities. In the end, the experience will always pay off.
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