Auper CEO & CTO Interviewed on Jose Gaspar's Podcast "Zev News Moto"
Updated: Mar 29
Recently, Silvio and Alan from the team, sat down virtually for an in depth podcast, discussing all things Auper, with the moto expert Jose Gaspar, whose show interviews the passionate and innovative minds that are changing the motocycling industry. Jose’s Podcast, Zev News Moto, can be found on all good podcasting platforms and his website https://zev.news .
To listen along on spotify, here's the link to the episode: Link to Spotify! Below is a transcript of the interview, with timestamps if you would like to jump ahead or back in the conversation.
Over to Jose!: [00:00:00.00] - Jose Gaspar Auper is a Brazilian slash Canadian electric motorcycle startup. In a couple of years, the company plans to produce affordable electric motorcycles for daily commutes.
But Auper's ambitions are far away from simple motorcycles. The startup is designing almost everything from scratch. The goal is to deliver neat models. Relying on advanced technologies to stand out in the market.
To learn more about Auper I talked with the Brazilians Silvio Rottili, the Auper CEO, and Alan Callegaro, the CTO. Two of the four founders. In the talk, the mission, challenges, road map to launch. And much more.
I’m your host, Jose Gaspar, and you are listening to the Zev.News Moto – Podcast.
[00:00:14.490] - Jose Gaspar
Auper is a Brazilian slash Canadian electric motorcycle startup.In a couple of years, the company plans to produce affordable electric motorcycles for daily commutes but Aupers ambitions are far away from simple motorcycles. The startup has designed almost everything from scratch. Their goal is to deliver neat models relying on advanced technologies to stand out in the market. To learn more about Auper, I talked with the Brazilians, Silver Rotili the Auper CEO and Alan Callagaro the CTO. Two of the four founders and we talk the mission, challenges, roadmap to launch and much more. I'm your host, Jose Gaspar, and we are listening to The Zev News Moto Podcast.
[00:01:33.070] - Jose Gaspar
Hi guys. How are you?
[00:01:35.470] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
Pretty good. How are you doing?
[00:01:37.010] - Alan Callegaro
[00:01:37.630] - Jose Gaspar
I'm fine. You are a milestone for the show, you know why?
[00:01:42.290] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
[00:01:43.270] - Jose Gaspar
You are the first Brazilians.
[00:01:45.570] - Alan Callegaro
[00:01:46.560] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
[00:01:48.850] - Jose Gaspar
Yeah, for sure.
[00:01:51.890] - Alan Callegaro
From Brazil to Brazil.
[00:01:53.170] - Jose Gaspar
Yeah, for sure.
[00:01:55.910] - Jose Gaspar
It's like a milestone.
[00:01:59.910] - Jose Gaspar
Can you start from the very beginning? Could you give me a few words about your background? I mean, before you start Auper?
[00:02:07.780] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
[00:02:10.330] - Jose Gaspar
Please introduce yourself.
[00:02:12.490] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
Yeah. So like me and Alan, we are the two initial founders of Auper. We are four founders for Auper Motorcycles. I've known Alan since 2006 when we did our undergrad together in electric engineering. And I've been involved in electric vehicles since then, since I did my undergrad for more than 15 years now. In 2017 I came to Canada to do my PhD. So Alan was already doing his PhD here and that was in electric vehicles and electric motors.
[00:02:50.950] - Alan Callegaro
So yes. So I'm also an electrical engineer always like technology. From high school I was doing a vocational school to be a technician and I climbed the the stairs of the education. We did my undergrad in electrical engineer masters in in Bio Electronics in Brazil at UFSC in Santa Catarina. Then I worked there one year and came to Canada in 2015 january 2015 left Brazil from 30 degrees to arrive in Canada at -15 and changed, the biggest move in my life. It was a big change but it was a very pleasurable adventure. So I started my PhD here in control motor design motor control inverter motor drives specifically for the motor that we use in Auper motorcycles. So I did acoustic noise reduction of those machines using control techniques. Later I joined another project in the laboratory that we studied which is the biggest center of vehicle electrification in North America or maybe in the world. It's called McMaster Automotive Resource Center (MARC) because it's a resource for industry. It's not a research for just for sake of research. It's a very applied research center. So every single project we have there is because we have a problem in the industry to be solved. So that project I was leading is for the aerospace industry in the An (electric vertical take-off and landing) eVTOL technology designing. I was leading a big team of 40 or 50 engineers designing motors, motor drives, pyrotronics and DCDC converters emulating for eVTOL for future air taxis. Like if you can fly from here from Hamilton to Toronto, like five or six people that's. That's the future. So we're doing all the components for that architecture.
[00:05:10.690] - Jose Gaspar
How did you end up starting Auper.
[00:05:13.810] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So, Auper, to start with, I'm a motorcycle guy as you are. So I've been riding motorcycles as long as I can remember. So Auper started as an idea, a quest, actually, to solve some of these big social, economic, and environmental issues that we have in developing countries like Brazil. So, our mission is to make a real tangible impact on the world. Bring electric motorcycles that are safer to ride, secure against theft, and affordable to everyone. And we are also bringing a very unique and amazing ownership experience like never seen before. So we started this as an ambition to solve a problem, right? And that led us to define a motorcycle that has a real scale and a place in the motorcycle market that benefits everyone. But on top of that, we have a great team of engineers and developers and designers that are building this completely different motorcycle experience. So I would say that, like, I compare ourselves, like the jump that we made when we had like the old home phone that we grow up (with) to, smartphone that we carry in our pockets now. So the technology and our capabilities and expectations, they have grown up. So we are building a motorcycle for the next generation now.
[00:06:54.950] - Jose Gaspar
Nice. And by the way, what Auper means?
[00:06:59.510] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So, Auper is a combination of two Brazilian (Portuguese) words. Actually, it's Auge and Ampere. So the unit for measuring current, the meaning is more like the sound is something that's up high, Auper. And the logo, you can see that points like up and forward. So this is kind of our mission there.
[00:07:24.510] - Jose Gaspar
Nice. And guys, let's talk about the bike now. Well, I know the Auper bikes use Enedym motors. What kind of motor is that?
[00:07:35.410] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So, this is a very unique motor. It's a motor called switch reluctance motor. So this motor has no permanent magnets at all. A very simple construction. It's usually used for aerospace applications and mining because of reliability and robustness. I would say it's one of the most unique and advanced motors that you have on the market right now. So, Auper is the first motorcycle in the world to use this technology. It sounds very different than any other electric machine that you've heard. It's very nice.
[00:08:15.790] - Jose Gaspar
Nice. What else is produced by partners, I mean the controller battery pack.
[00:08:22.430] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So the partners we partner Enedym, we also co-developed everything from this motor. So Alan and I, we also work with Enedym on the motor controls and power electronics that's Alan. So we co-developed everything with them other than Enedym as a partner and supplier for the powertrain. The motor and inverter everything else was developed in house, including the battery pack, the battery management system, the whole hardware and software that gives us this user experience, connectivity, the control of the motorcycle that comes with traction control, stability, control anti-wheelie, and the list goes on and on. This was completely developing house by us.
[00:09:10.640] - Alan Callegaro
And display, the UX UI, like how the user basically uses the motorcycle, like everything. The warning light, The controls of the motorcycle, everything is in house developed.
[00:09:27.750] - Jose Gaspar
That's pretty bold.
[00:09:34.470] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
To make a difference and to change the future. It's really hard to do like integrating parts from everywhere. And this is what we want to do different than everybody. So we are not like Integrators, but we want to build the whole technology and create this different ownership experience. And to do that, you need to start everything from the ground up. It's really hard to do that only integrating components from suppliers.
[00:10:03.310] - Jose Gaspar
What is the battery pack capacity?
[00:10:06.930] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So we have several ones. It starts from 4.8 kilowatt hours and goes to 7.2. And you can add more packs. Their range will be expected from 100 to 230 kilometres of range, depending on the battery size. And this is like a highway city combined - as any electric vehicle. It's always the opposite of gas bikes. So they're much more efficient on city range than highway. Mostly because of this coefficiency of drag and the higher power of the motor.
[00:10:45.950] - Jose Gaspar
What kind of cell do you use in the battery pack?
[00:10:49.710] - Alan Callegaro
So we are using lithium ion cells. So LMCs right now. But the different thing about those as well on the battery pack technology is since we built the whole battery management system and the whole software to estimate, we are not attached to a single battery technology. So as the battery evolves over time, we can replace the battery cells and the battery chemistry along the way. So we keep improving the product in the future. That's why it was one of the decision as well to build everything from the ground up, so we are not tied to one type of chemistry for the battery.
[00:11:28.350] - Jose Gaspar
Supply chain is not a problem.
[00:11:31.150] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
No. So magnets. No magnets. That's the biggest supply chain and with the battery. We can work with different suppliers on that as well. We want to minimize the supply chain as much as possible. This is the goal.
[00:11:42.680] - Alan Callegaro
Yeah, and the motor, as you mentioned, there has no rare magnets, there's no supply chain. Then if China decides to hike the prices from, there then we are not in that danger zone, right. And the motor just uses copper and electrical steel, which is pretty simple. Super simple. And very it's available. Everyone uses that and it doesn't rely on extracting these materials from the ground. That can be very harmful for the environment as well. It's a dirty process to extract these materials from nature.
[00:12:23.710] - Jose Gaspar
Let's talk about the framing decisiond. Could you give me an overview about that?
[00:12:29.630] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
About the frame? You mean?
[00:12:32.130] - Jose Gaspar
Frame and suspension?
[00:12:33.850] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
Yeah. So the frame, what we did is a Trellis frame right now. So the Trellis frame, why we did that is manufacturing is easier and it looks really nice. So we have some parts of the frame exposed. So we did the whole design of the frame and geometry of the motorcycle for the simplistics. And now we have the beta prototype that we're test, riding on the track to see what we need to change on the geometry for the suspension itself. So the front is an inverted fork there. So nothing like a really special or something like adaptive suspension or anything like that. Because we want to make this an affordable product, right? So we want to make this accessible.
[00:13:23.810] - Jose Gaspar
How ready is the bike for the market?
[00:13:28.130] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So right now we are on the Alpha prototype. There is still like a development to be done, right? So we basically are testing the whole technology. So the main reason that nobody knew about Albert's accompanying so far was that we were in stealth mode for two years developing the hardware from the ground up and testing. So right now we have one cosmetic and functional prototype. We also have like a testing view where we can test some of the electronics. We have several motors on dynamometers now and doing the environmental test. So that goes to temperature, vibration and everything else. And we are doing the same with the hardware. We expect to have the pre-production model probably beginning of next year, mid next year, that will be the pre-production model. And then after that we will come to manufacturing process. Our plan is as well, by the end of the year we want to have a few bikes in the hand of possible customers for pilot testing, not for commercialization. So far this is kind of the road map on the development. It's still some things to do since we are on the bleeding edge of technology. That comes with a lot of responsibility on the part of validation, certification, regulation, compliance and functional safety and everything else.
[00:14:59.940] - Jose Gaspar
I can imagine, and where do you produce the bikes?
[00:15:06.530] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So the bikes, they were manufactured here in Hamilton right now and the R & D and manufacturer of this motorcycles done here. The good thing for us here is that we have access to a huge infrastructure from our partners. So this is what made it possible to manufacture almost everything here locally (In Canada). This comes from the battery pack to the electronics to the motor, the windings. Everything is done locally here in Hamilton, Ontario. The goal later is to manufacture in Brazil. We'll keep part of the R & D here in Canada, but the mass production will be in Brazil. That's our initial market.
[00:15:51.070] - Jose Gaspar
I was about to ask you that, which market you want to sell the bike in?
[00:15:57.970] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So initially we'll go to Brazil and that's mainly because we are solving some of these big social, economic and environmental problems. So in Brazil for example, we have a very high theft rates. So in São Paulo alone there are more than 36,000 motorcycles stolen per year. Like one every 15 minutes. And we built a very solid and unique anti-theft technology.
[00:16:24.410] - Jose Gaspar
[00:16:25.040] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So this and making this affordable is what gets us in a very unique position, going to Brazil. And Brazil, the market is huge, by the way. It's one of the largest motorcycle markets in the world.
[00:16:37.230] - Jose Gaspar
What is the price point, more or less?
[00:16:38.780] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
We can't discuss exactly, but what I can say is that we're going with a very competitive price, very close to the price of a gas bike, of an entry level gas bike. We built the whole motorcycle to make it as affordable as possible. And we don't need to make an ugly product to make it affordable. We can still make a sexy motorcycle that looks good, rides well, is reliable and still accessible. So this is the mission since day one for Auper to make it accessible. That's why, for example, the motor is 30% less expensive than a motor that has permanent magnets. We built the whole hardware, so we integrate everything in one unit, so reduce cost as well. The whole idea of the company was starting to make this affordable, to make a real impact, this is the idea. We can't discuss exactley the price, but it will be very competitive on the gas powered motorcycles in Brazil.
[00:17:45.130] - Jose Gaspar
I see. Well, what about funding? Auper has already attract an investor? Or something like that?.
[00:17:53.510] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
It's very good that you asked, because we're in the middle of an investment round. So we are trying to attract more investors to join efforts. We rely now a lot on our partners, our manufacturing partners. So this is where a lot of the money came in. We have right now almost like $3million in R & D put in the motorcycle from these last two years. And that was mostly funded by our main partners here in Canada. So any investors out there that's interested in us, we are open to conversations as well.
[00:18:31.410] - Jose Gaspar
What was the main challenge so far?
[00:18:39.750] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
Where can I start? Electric motorcycles, they are considerably simpler and has less components than gas bikes, right?. But that does not mean that we can just replace a gas tank by battery pack and an engine for a motor, right. However, this seems to be the route that a lot of companies do. It's basically remove an engine and put a motor. And now we have an electric motorcycle. This is fine for a lot of people. It's not for us. So this is why, if you're at the bleeding edge of technology, there's a lot of R&D regulation certification involved and all the components they need to pass to a very rigorous quality control, functional safety and so on. And this is the main challenge, building a motorcycle from the ground up. Now, that's why it was a very bold move from us to move this way. And building it like a modern electric motorcycle is kind of a blend of wind in your face and the right experience, also the research and development, and this user experience and understanding the people that will ride it, because there's also this side of the product, who is going to ride it, who is interested in this technology. It's expensive and takes time, right, to build this. So I would say this is the main challenge for any electric motorcycle. When that's starting,
[00:20:19.910] - Jose Gaspar
Who is the customer for the bike? Who's the target?
[00:20:23.590] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So that will be people that have Gas powered motorcycles that want to move to electric. The future of transportation will become electric eventually. And City commuting I think is the best approach for any electric motorcycle. High performance, long range motorcycles, it doesn't work very well because you have very limited space for battery and aerodynamics - they are not as great for motorcycles as they are for cars. So if you want to get high performance and more range, you need to put a lot of batteries and that increase the weight. So the main target will be commuters that want to go to work or enjoy riding a motorcycle. Also for a business that uses them as a source of revenue and people that use motorcycles for work. So that's the main target for us. Initially.
[00:21:22.490] - Jose Gaspar
Guys, well, the last questio that's a tough one, but I have to make that - you are a start up. So that means you are playing against the odds. Why do you believe you're going to succeed?
[00:21:37.150] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
So I understand that, a start up is not easy, especially when you see more companies doing electric motorcycles, right? But when we look at what separates us from the competing products on the market, we really stand alone, especially when it comes to the technology. So, as I mentioned before, anyone even knew us as Auper, we already put like more than $3million in research and development for the initial prototype. And that was specifically to the powertrain electronics and features that differentiates us from anyone else in the EV space. So we believe that the industry has room for everyone. Like electrification is the future of transportation. There will be room for everyone that's coming into the market and everybody will need to adapt. Right. But for us, what differentiates us is this experience, the engineering that we put behind it. And we didn't just refine and rebrand everything, but instead we completely rebuilt everything from the ground up to be in a better position when we come to the market.
[00:22:57.350] - Jose Gaspar
Guys, wow, that was amazing. Such a pleasure to talk to you. And I want to ride it. I want to see the bike on the street very soon.
[00:23:06.650] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
You are welcome to come here and visit us and take a ride on this one here. It will be a pleasure.
[00:23:13.290] - Jose Gaspar
Okay, guys, thank you.
[00:23:16.090] - Silvio Rotilli Filho
Thank you very much.
For More Blogs, News and Information on Auper, our technology, Mission and Motorcycle - head over to AuperMotorcycles.com!