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Frenchman designs first electric scooter made in Cambodia

Yann Vaudin, a Frenchman based in Cambodia since 2013, founded Voltra Motors, the kingdom's first electric scooter manufacturer.

Cambodian favorite means of transport, the gasoline scooter is omnipresent in Cambodia, where it is responsible for massive greenhouse gas emissions. Yann Vaudin, a Frenchman living in Cambodia for six years, has developed in recent years the first electric bike-scooter manufactured in the Kingdom, which will be marketed from November.

Engineer in renewable energies in large groups such as GDF-Suez or Bolloré, Yann Vaudin decides to go around the world in 2012 with an expatriation project. After visiting ten countries, he moved to Siem Reap in March 2013, where he founded Green e-bike, the first electric scooter rental company to visit the Angkor Archaeological Park. Quickly, he plans to produce the first Cambodian electric two-wheeler. A project that materialized in the creation of Voltra Motors, and which will finally succeed in November.

For Yann Vaudin, the ecological challenge is central in Cambodia. "Phnom Penh has 1.7 million motorcycles, which emit more than three million tonnes of CO2 each year. To capture all this CO2, trees should be planted on a surface equivalent to that of the capital. In addition to the environmental issue, which has allowed Voltra Motors to benefit from the support of the United Nations Development Program and the Cambodian Ministry of the Environment, the company also relies on the economic argument to appeal to Cambodian clients. "One kilometer traveled costs 15 riels of electricity, which is six times cheaper compared to gas bikes," adds the founder of Voltra.

To designate the vehicle produced by Voltra Motors, its founder proposes the term "e-solex". Voltra's two-wheelers combine an acceleration handle, pedals and pedaling assistance. It combines an autonomy of 50 kilometers and a maximum speed of 38 km / h, convenient for urban use. An e-bike costs $ 799 pre-order on the manufacturer's website, a price that will rise to $ 899 when it is distributed in stores in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in November.

The Voltra e-bike includes a removable lithium battery of four kilos, rechargeable on any electrical outlet, with a lifespan of around three years, at the end of which the company agrees to take the batteries for a recycling respecting a maximum environment. "We offer a very light battery, while the batteries of electric scooters often weigh more than 15 kilos," says Yann Vaudin, who adds that one hour of charging equals 13 kilometers. The vehicle is also lightweight compared to conventional scooters, with a weight of 48 kilos.

Three years were needed to develop the first electric scooter model. Voltra Motors had to adapt to the Cambodian tropical climate, especially by using screws and paints adapted to withstand moisture and monsoon rains. But according to the founder of the company, the biggest challenge has been to successfully offer an accessible electric vehicle while remaining demanding on quality. The company even claims European certifications. "We could sell our e-bikes in France without any problem," says Yann Vaudin.

To appeal to Cambodian customers, Voltra Motors first wants to target educated young Cambodians, more sensitive to environmental issues than their elders, and the appeal of a vehicle assembled in Cambodia while benefiting from French expertise. For the manufacturer, one of the major challenges to conquer the Cambodian market will be to ensure a quality after-sales service. To do this, Voltra Motors is in discussion with the NGO For a child smile to set up a course dedicated to the maintenance and repair of electric scooters.