SAN FRANCISCO, CA (BRAIN) — A2B, the e-bike brand formerly owned by UltraMotor, is undergoing a global relaunch.
Officials of Hero Eco, the new owner of the A2B brand, were in San Francisco on Wednesday to show off new models. The company is opening a flagship showroom at its U.S. headquarters on Ninth Street.
Next Tuesday, A2B is hosting an invitation-only event in the Southern California cities of Santa Monica and El Segundo to introduce the bikes to journalists and others. The company hosted similar relaunch events in London, Munich and New York City.
“The U.S. market is one of our biggest challenges and opportunities and therefore a strategic objective for us,” said Fernando Kuefer, general manager of Hero Eco. A subsidiary of India’s Hero Group, Hero Eco bought the A2B brand in 2011.
A2B was formerly owned by UltraMotor, which launched its original Metro model in 2009. The stylish bikes generated buzz, but the brand’s former owners were unable to give the brand sufficient support.
Now, Hero Eco has dropped the UltraMotor name and is working to rebuild relationships with retailers and consumers. The Hero Group is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of two-wheelers, with annual revenue of more than $5 billion.
“We wanted to simplify the message to the consumer that it’s all about A2B,” said Kuefer, who is based in London. “For dealers and distributors, it’s important to know that we’re owned by Hero Eco because it gives them a certainty that they have a balance sheet and a cash flow that allows the business to grow.”
Kuefer said the number of U.S. retailers carrying the A2B brand fell from a peak of about 150 before Hero Eco purchased the company to about 100 currently. He said the reduction allows the company to focus on its best, top-tier retailers.
“We’re trying to partner with key dealers in key locations and develop a good relationship with them,” he said.
Some of the models are renamed versions of former UltraMotor models. The Octave, for example, is the former Metro; the Alva is the former Velociti; and the Kuo is the former Edge.
But Hero Eco is also rolling out new models this month and later in the year. At the top of the new line is the Shima speed e-bike. Powered by a 500-watt motor, the Shima has a top speed under pedal assist of 28 mph. It will retail for $3,799.
The Alva+ model offers both pedal-assist and throttle-control options. European e-bikes are required to be pedal-assist only.
“What we’re seeing in the U.S. market is a shift away from throttle, and [consumers are] warming up to the pedal-assist option of Europe,” Kuefer said. Someone commuting up and down the San Francisco hills might appreciate both options, he said.
Hero Eco is also launching a sister brand, F4W, that will offer less-expensive e-bikes starting at a price point of $1,799.
Later this year, A2B will launch three high-end e-bike models that will be made in Germany. The premium Entz/Deluxe model will retail for more than $6,000, Kuefer said.