Electromobility pioneers from Winterthur
Powerful, quiet, and emission-free: Electromobility is a promise for the future. The Designwerk Group's entire product range, from its fast chargers to its electrically driven trucks, is manufactured in Winterthur.
"There are more power outlets in the world than gas stations." This realization is what brought the Designwerk Group into being. The Group's founders, Frank Loacker and Tobias Wülser, were on a round-the-world trip with a self-built electric motorbike when they recognized the great potential of electromobility, and what began in 2008 as a small engineering firm has now grown into an innovative company. In the workshop in Winterthur, the engineers now serially manufacture not only mobile fast chargers and battery systems, but also fully electric commercial vehicles and trucks, from semitrailers to concrete mixers and garbage trucks, under their own brand Futuricum.
Unique capabilities enable strong growth
Adrian Melliger, CEO of the Designwerk Group, joined in 2018 and says that it is precisely this versatility – the combination of engineering expertise and in-house production – that makes the company so unique. "We have mastered all of the areas related to electromobility and can manufacture everything in-house – from prototypes through to small series production." This approach pays off: The Designwerk Group is in the fast lane. The lower operating costs of the SME's electric commercial vehicles mean that they are increasingly becoming the go-to option over their diesel counterparts.
We can manufacture everything in-house – from prototypes through to small series production.
Adrian Melliger, CEO of the Designwerk Group
The company has more than doubled its turnover in recent years and the number of employees has soared from 26 to 105. However, this growth does bring challenges with it, and the Designwerk Group is subject to constant and rapid internal change. "The company looks completely different today compared to three months ago, and it will look completely different again in three months' time," explains Adrian Melliger. Financing for the manufacturing division is also a complex undertaking. "We have to constantly ensure that there is sufficient liquidity to manage growth and that we always have the materials we need for ongoing operations."
Proximity to university is key to success
Innovation is a major part of the young company's culture. "It is at our core. We always have to be at least two years ahead of the large vehicle manufacturers, otherwise we do not stand a chance," explains Adrian Melliger. This is why the experienced entrepreneur sees the Winterthur location as key to the company's success – especially because of the proximity to Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). By cooperating with the university, the Designwerk Group not only gains new insights but also discovers talented and motivated employees among the graduates.
The company has already set its course for the future. In the spring of 2021, the Volvo Group became the Designwerk Group's new main investor. "This opens up completely new doors to us, especially thanks to our access to Volvo's Sales and After-Sales divisions," confirms Adrian Melliger. The SME now has a unique opportunity to advance both its expansion into the European market and the further development of its products.