Chinese car parts manufacturer acquires Apeldoorn-based e-Traction
- Published: 22 September 2016
R&D center to remain in the Netherlands, dozens of new jobs in the next three years
Apeldoorn, September 22nd 2016.
Investment firm De Hoge Dennen Capital and a group of smaller shareholders have sold their entire interest in Apeldoorn-based firm e-Traction to the Tanhas group. Via this transaction, the Chinese company has acquired 100% of shares in the technological market leader in the field of electrical drivetrains, which are used in city buses and other automotive applications. The research and application development and technical sales support departments will remain in Apeldoorn in a custom-outfitted Innovation and R&D center. The Chinese shareholder recently completed construction plans for a state-of-the-art factory in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the first drivetrains are expected to leave the assembly line at the end of 2017.
Beginning in late 1990, e-Traction developed a high-end technology platform based on TheWheel, a unique, patented direct-drive-in-wheel motor that is 15% more efficient than other powertrain systems and over 70% more efficient in use than a diesel-powered bus. In addition, a bus fitted with the TheWheel technology does not emit environmentally harmful particulates and the bus provides passengers greater comfort due to the absence of engine noise and vibrations. The company works with partners across the world, including bus manufacturers such as the Dutch company VDL. The Chinese Tanhas group is a group of high-tech companies that include manufacturers of complete transmission systems for commercial vehicles and components of gearboxes for passenger cars.
e-Traction CEO Peter de Neef speaks of a fantastic deal: “The company’s profitability has been a challenge until now. This was due in part to high development costs, and partly due to a lack of sufficient sales opportunities in the European market, which is the most easily accessible for us. Our shareholder, De Hoge Dennen, has provided us with excellent support in recent years, with their continued investments in our technology and operations and their belief in attracting a strategic shareholder who could provide us with access to the Chinese market. If you are not on the Chinese market, you’re missing out on the global market.”
More than 450,000 buses are sold in China every year, which represents a market at least 10 times the size of Europe and 80% of worldwide market demand. “In addition to access to Chinese local authorities, public transport companies and bus OEMs that operate there, Tanhas also has the financial resources to continue to invest in the technology platform for other applications, such as city distribution, agriculture and vehicles for the mining industry,” says De Neef.
The Apeldoorn-based company, will become profitable in 2019, has a total workforce of 42 people. In China, hundreds of employees will work at the new factory and at the Chinese sales organization. e-Traction expects to record annual production and sales of more than 20,000 in-wheel motors in several years’ time.
Investment firm De Hoge Dennen invested tens of millions of euros in recent years to prepare the company for its next growth phase. De Neef believes that under the auspices of its new owner e-Traction will find itself in a good home with an excellent vision on the future of e-mobility and with a corporate culture well suited to the Dutch. “Our Innovation and R&D Center will work closely with the production facilities and sales organization in China. It was important to me that, as part of the sale, we would continue to direct and develop know-how and experience in and from the Netherlands.” The production of the in-wheel electronics will also remain in the Netherlands and will continue to expand. It will create dozens of new jobs in The Netherlands. “With all the positive spin-offs that will generate. Not just for the Dutch business sector as a whole and Dutch suppliers, but also for all the young engineers at our Technical Universities who want to be involved in meaningful applications and developments in the field of sustainable mobility,” says De Neef.
TheWheel is patented technology developed by the Apeldoorn-based company e-Traction, which produces drivetrains for applications such as city buses. With its new Chinese shareholders, the company will have access to the Chinese market, which sees production of more than 450,000 buses annually, representing 80% of the global market potential. R&D activities and the production of in-wheel electronics will remain in the Netherlands. In China, the company will build a new factory, where it will produce more than 20,000 in-wheel motors annually in a few years’ time.