Christoph Ballin, CEO of German electric propulsion specialist Torqeedo, addressed a large gathering of press at boot Düsseldorf on Tuesday to provide more insight into the group's new owner.
Deutz, a leading manufacturer of innovative drive systems with a focus on off-highway applications, acquired Torqeedo in October last year. The company’s portfolio covers diesel and gas engines from 19kW-62kW – predominantly for construction or agricultural equipment – and boasts an annual turnover of around €1.3bn. The group had a production volume of 13,000 combustion engines in 2017 alone.
“Deutz wanted to purchase the know-how of Torqeedo in electric and hybrid propulsion and we will work on transferring that know-how into the Deutz organisation,” Ballin explained, adding that Torqeedo will remain an independent identity and will continue its focus on leading the revolution in electric boating.
According to Ballin, the acquisition of Torqeedo was a normal stage in the development of a venture capital-financed start-up. “To be frank, we didn’t expect it to happen last year,” Ballin said. “We expected it to happen in two to three years’ time, maybe 2020 or so, but we were approached by Deutz and a discussion ensued. At the end of the discussion, everybody felt that this was a good solution.”
Ballin said Deutz is looking to increase the speed of development of its own electric and hybrid products for construction equipment, agriculture and material handling. "They want to use the Torqeedo technology, supply network, partner network and other assets," he said. "And with this, we want to jointly achieve a faster time to market for hybrid and electric propulsion for Deutz cross segments."
There are also ways in which Torqeedo itself will directly benefit from Deutz ownership, he said, particularly in terms of industrialisation support. “Between the industrialisation capability of Torqeedo and the industrialisation capabilities of a 4,000-employee engine manufacturer, there is a big difference and we feel we can benefit very much from Deutz’s experience in industrialisation,” Ballin said.
“This will also be relevant for synergies in procurement and production. We want to leverage Deutz’s sales network in countries in which Torqeedo is not very strong yet and also we want to leverage Deutz’s sales network.”
During the press briefing, Ballin also discussed the “sustainability revolution” that is currently taking place in various segments of the market, inspired in part by the 10-year anniversary of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. He also gave details of new Torqeedo products for 2018. These include a 48V battery, the Power 48-5000; a BMW i8 high-power battery for the award-winning Deep Blue propulsion system; and a new Saildrive Mount for the Cruise 10.0FP.
“Looking back at 2017, Torqeedo had a wonderful year,” said Ballin. “We grew by 40% and we did a variety of projects for a variety of people." This included everyting from providing electric propulsion to the indigenous people of the Ecuadorian rainforest who have a severe infrastructure problem and difficulties getting fuel, to the Royal barge Gloriana for the Queen of England.
“The variety of segments that we covered shows the progress that electric mobility is making not only in our core segments – recreational and commercial boating – but for a vast variety of people and a vast variety of applications,” said Ballin.