Kate: Made in France supporting autonomous and performing micro cars

Interview of Matthias GOLDENBERG – CEO of Kate

Kate Original mini voiture électrique

Founded in 2022, Kate is a company which recently appeared on the electrical micro cars market as a new Made in France cars’ manufacturer. Indeed, it develops and commercializes light electric vehicles designed for town, beach and countryside uses.

Originally, the brand was created from a common project shared by 3 associates:

  • Thibaud ELZIÈRE, Co-founder of Kate and experimented entrepreneur,
  • Pierre ESCRIEUT, CTO of Kate benefiting from a strong technical experience after spending 15 years working for companies such as Valeo and Orange,
  • Matthias GOLDENBERG, CEO of Kate passionate about automobile and technology.
Kate constructeur automobile français

Indeed, Kate has bought Nosmoke which was founded in 2012 and which main activity was to manufacture leisure vehicles inspired by the Mini Moke convertible. By acquiring this business, Kate has benefited from its entire industrial and technological asset which led to a fast production. Thus, the company worked on Nosmoke vehicle’s base design to create Kate Original: a luxurious micro car benefiting from a brand-new industrialization thanks to its 100% electrical aspect.

With the commercialization of Kate Original and the development of several new projects, Kate is planning to grow and significantly increase its production force in the next few years. The company has announced in April 2023 a 7 million euros fund raising dedicated to deliver its Kate Original vehicle but also to develop a new mini car concept. This growth can be explained by Kate’s willingness to upgrade its number of vehicles produced from 200 a year in 2022 to 200 a day in 2026.

Our vocation is to create lightweight and efficient everyday vehicles that are also affordable. To design such a micro car is a genuine challenge which is multiplied if we wish to build hundreds or thousands of them. By redeeming the Nosmoke company, we have been able to overcome this challenge and gain 10 years regarding the production of our vehicles.

CEO of Kate

Project K1

On the 18th of January 2023, Kate was pleased to announce the development of an exclusive brand-new concept of micro car: K1. Although it has similarities with Kate Original, project K1’s aim is to be more affordable and is closer to the current micro cars already available on the market. It differentiates itself from the competition by being a performing electric vehicle which is completely closed and fits 4 seating. Moreover, a driver licence is requested to drive it since it isn’t a licence-free car. K1 is an awaited product on the French and European markets provided that its purchase and use prices remain low.

Kate K1 projet
Kate K1 développement
Kate K1 mini voiture

In order to fit with the market expectations, the fund raising announced to allow Kate Original’s evolution will indirectly help us with the development of project K1. Thus, Kate Original is a 25 000€ premium handmade product which should allow us to widely propose K1 for a much lower purchasing price.

CEO of Kate

Challenge and collaboration with TYVA Energie

Besides answering a genuine market demand, project K1 also responds to a reindustrialization challenge for Kate. Indeed, the company wishes to root its production in France and Europe and avoid working with delocalized suppliers, so do many businesses on the territory. Thus, it now provides itself with 88% of components locally sourced from France and Europe against 40% only before Nosmoke acquisition. Concerned purchases are mainly the most heavy and expensive components as well as the most valuable ones for the vehicle. Thus, when it came to choosing a battery for its Original vehicle, Kate called upon TYVA Energie.

Indeed, TYVA Energie was solicited to power one of Kate’s micro cars allowing a 100 km autonomy for urban use. This model embeds a 7 kWh battery from our Flat & Kube compact and powerful lithium batteries range. Kate has initially chosen to collaborate with TYVA Energie thanks to the exceptional energy capacity of our batteries bringing great power to any system. In addition to that, we are able to minimize congestion thanks to the compactness and lightness of our battery solutions.

Beside all these significant arguments for the making of an electric micro car, there is also the fact we are located in France and we offer standard products answering a large demand. In addition to the energy solution requested by Kate, TYVA Energie also stood out thanks to its expertise regarding conception and electronical assembly. Finally, our internal Research Unit gives us the opportunity to develop specific technologies such as our TYVA Refill battery reconditioning solution, in accordance with Kate’s eco-responsible values.

Kate Original micro voiture autonome
Kate Original micro voiture électrique

Industrialization of Kate Original

Industrialisation Kate Original
Kate Original production

As a new French automotive manufacturer, Kate has provided itself the means to avoid the classic model that consist of several years of development based on precise specifications. Instead, the company favours a fast manufacturing based on a real-time market study. Thus, Kate was able to promptly sign partnerships with many suppliers including TYVA Energie to establish more efficient standard operating procedures. This time saving approach has reduced months of process to a few weeks of work only.

The operating mode adopted by Kate regarding the Kate Original electrical vehicle industrialization is still emerging on the market. As a manufacturer of last generation vehicles, the company is influenced by a strong tech culture. Thus, it performs many tests as well as a fast market launching rather than going through long processes. This approach also incorporates the choice of a French and European reindustrialization by soliciting local suppliers for a quicker and more effective assembly. Many other manufacturers don’t choose such an approach angle: there are important key players on the market who decide to follow a different path by internalizing skills at most and controlling the whole value chain. These actors accept risks by centralizing their production but they are balanced since they also enjoy advantages regarding costs.

Benefits of our lithium batteries

Kate’s will to collaborate with local suppliers was expressed by a certain agility through discussions with TYVA Energie. It led to a great responsiveness regarding the project implementation. This agility was also observed regarding supplies and logistics. Indeed, besides reducing Kate Original’s ecological impact, our Kube 7 lithium battery fitted inside the engine hood is only 40 kg heavy, which makes it compact and lightweight as the vehicle it powers.

The industrialization choice implemented has also allowed to halve the assembly time. Beams and vehicle’s global architecture simplification were time saver, as well as assembly operations that were revised to gain efficiency. TYVA Energie’s lithium battery brought ergonomy to Kate Original, so did other components of the electronic system. All these elements have played great parts in the micro car’s simplified and efficient industrialization. 

TYVA Energie’s lithium battery has allowed us to improve our performances and gain efficiency since we reach a 100 km autonomy in urban use, or 70 to 80 km with a deeper use. Even if we have half the capacity of a rechargeable hybrid vehicle, we were able to obtain a far greater autonomy with 7 kWh only. Thanks to this significant choice, we have reduced the battery’s weight and its ecological impact as well as its price while benefiting from the necessary autonomy.

CEO of Kate

Batterie lithium TYVA Energie Kate Original
Kate Original assemblage mécanique

Copyright © Automobile Propre

What about now?

The collaboration between Kate and TYVA Energie was fruitful and led to the project structuring and achievement. Established local partnerships were rewarded with trusting relationships which Kate wishes to preserve in order to maintain its fast and efficient growth. However, the serenity brought by this promising implementation might be put under strain with the upcoming development of Kate’s brand-new production site. It should be 60 times bigger than the current one, which will imply an increase of the production rate for its partners. Moreover, the choice of the ideal chemical formula to power the K1 vehicle will also have an impact on the established collaborations.

There are many remaining challenges for Kate. Indeed, to propose a more affordable vehicle on the market is a consistent issue. It can be explained with the decision to favour a local sourcing rather than an external one. Most large industrial companies have relocated their production abroad and benefit from more attractive prices. They are 3 to 5 time lower than the SMEs’ prices which manufacture their products in France or Europe. Moreover, these SMEs don’t necessarily have the volume nor the production capacity required to keep up with project such the K1 one. The whole challenge for Kate lies in the opportunity to surround itself with the best French and Europeans suppliers whether in terms of prices or capacity. The goal is to start producing by the end of 2024 and to achieve an objective of 40 000 K1 cars sold per year by 2026.

Kate Original mini voiture électrique 2

To answer this sourcing problem which impacts many French and European manufacturers, Kate plans to develop a standard battery pack able to power any kind of automobile vehicles. This 6.1 kWh energy system will have the possibility to be mechanically adapted to all types of car models. Moreover, it will be able to achieve a maximum of 65 kWh embedded energy thanks to batteries paralleling. This capacity can be reached with a modular battery pack allowing to connect up to 10 parts to each other. As a manufacturer of lithium batteries and expert in sustainable and modular energy systems, TYVA Energie should take part in this project and will eventually support Kate in this new adventure. By completing this project, Kate wishes once more to encourage the French and European territory reindustrialization for all of its key players.

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