Three Austrian brothers say they have the electric drive technology to take on Tesla, and it’s grabbing the interest of automakers.
Kreisel Electric GmbH, based in Freidstadt, Austria, said it’s getting 20 inquiries a day from the likes of German automakers BMW and Volkswagen and British sports carmaker McLaren Automotive. The Kreisel brothers – Johann, Markus and Philipp – say that automakers are looking at their offerings as a way to join the electric-car revolution.
“The whole industry is searching, and we actually have the solution,” Markus Kreisel, 37, the middle sibling in charge of sales, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Companies come out and offer us projects. We have no real competitors in terms of the way we do business.”
Kreisel Electric is making battery packs and drivetrains for plug-in cars, boats, and airplanes. It’s shown off its high-performance test cars at auto shows in the past two years. The startup took its first order last month to deliver as many as 2,000 electric powertrains and battery packs to VDL Groep in the Netherlands for Mercedes Sprinter minibuses.
The Kreisel brothers have pitched themselves as “E-Mobility Maniacs” at trade shows. They’ve been impressive enough to get a few carmakers to come visit them at their three-door garage in Freistadt, located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Vienna, where they can test drive their supercars.
After two years, it’s coming together for the new company with product orders lining up. Kreisel Electric has started up Austria’s first lithium-ion assembly plant. Its workforce is expected to double to 70 employees by the time production starts in the second quarter of 2017.
“We already have two contracts with two companies, one of which is bigger than Tesla and will actually build 100,000 cars over the next two years,” said Markus Kreisel.
The company first grabbed attention with a reworked Porsche Panamera that can outperform the Tesla Model S on some measures. The brothers say that its patented laser-welding and thermal-cooling techniques give them a competitive edge over Tesla. They say their method preserves the full power of the lithium-ion cells.
“We don’t have the same rules as the big OEMs, so we can do in four months what it takes them two years to do,” Kreisel said.
Kreisel Electric follows a three-pronged business strategy. One is to make battery packs and electric drive trains for orders than can go as high as 10,000 vehicles. The second part is designing lithium-battery production lines for original-equipment manufacturers. Part three is creating prototypes for top-tier automakers.
It is gaining a good deal of attention and credibility.
“We have chosen Kreisel because they have developed a very nice battery with some patented characteristics better than Tesla,” Erik Henneken, business manager at VDL, wrote in a reply to questions about the minibus order. “Kreisel is dynamic startup yet very professional in what they do. They grow rapidly but remain in control.”