True disruption happens when a company takes the time and effort to understand just what their customer needs. They don’t just adapt a solution to fit the needs, they create one themselves, painstakingly keeping their customer needs front and centre. It’s no different for the mobility space.
One such company is Dubai-based BARQ, which has lifted the covers off an all-new two-wheeler designed specifically for the Middle East and North African markets.
Speaking to Auto Futures, Alfred David, Director, Smart Mobility – Land at BARQ, says: “BARQ is an United Arab Emirates (UAE) based smart mobility company, which is looking to revolutionise the way last mile delivery happens in the region. We are aimed at building products for the region and in the region.”
As of now, BARQ’s range of products comprises three flagships based on distance and mode of delivery – Rena Lite, Rena Max and Yas 1. The Rena Lite is a battery powered eBicycle that can go up to 40 km/hr using minimum effort. It is perfect for last mile deliveries for distances less than 3 kms, as it can significantly reduce cost, transit times and rider fatigue for short distances.
The Rena Max, on the other hand, is an eScooter that is built specifically for the last mile delivery segment. With a range of about 150 kilometres and a top speed capability of 120 km/hr, this eScooter has Android auto integrated systems, temperature-controlled storage and temperature-controlled handles that have been specifically designed for the Middle East market.
Finally, the Yas 1 is a line of drones by BARQ for autonomous delivery.
“BARQ has collaborated with a world class design and engineering team named Callum Designs in the UK in prototyping out the Rena Max, which is specifically engineered for the rising demand for last mile deliveries in the MENA region,” explains David.
BARQ Focuses on Local Requirements
Adapting solutions designed in other countries or regions is a common practice, but it might not always be the best way forward. A great example of this is the case of electric scooters catching fire.
The manufacturers of the EVs that abruptly burst into flames relied on imported battery packs, which are not created keeping in mind the Indian weather conditions. But what these fires have done is planted the seeds of doubt regarding safety in the minds of Indian consumers, a major setback for a nation that is still in the early stages of its electrification journey.
Conditions in the Middle East and North Africa are quite different from the rest of the world, and BARQ is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the requirements of this market are met with.
“Two wheelers need to be different in the MENA region due to extreme weather conditions and extreme riding behaviour. Most parts of the world do not have temperatures to go up to 60 degrees Celsius in temperature and 100% humidity,” explains David.
Entering The Drone Delivery Market
Battery swapping technology has become the need of the hour as logistics companies look to electrify their last mile operations. BARQ’s electric mopeds sport the battery swapping technology, so one would assume that the company is also planning to set up battery swapping stations in the near future.
“Swappable battery stations would be one of our focus areas as we would not want any compromises to the productivity of the riders due to charging. Setting up swappable stations would automatically further productivity and operational efficiency in businesses.”
BARQ is the brainchild of Abdullah Abu Sheikh, Ahmed Almazroui and Mazen Al Jubeir. While Abu Sheikh and Almazroui are serial entrepreneurs in the Middle East, Al Jubeir is an angel investor and a prominent figure in the Middle East VC space. Their collaboration has led to the creation of a company that’s the first of its kind in the region.
Its founders’ aim is to build fully indigenous products that the company owns in Abu Dhabi and in the MENA region. And to that effect, it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a leading component manufacturer.
“We have joined hands together with Motherson Sumi, one of the best in the world, to lead our efforts to locally set up manufacturing capability,” says David.
That’s not all. BARQ’ is also entering into the domain of drones.
“BARQ is one of the only commercial drone operators in the UAE and has set two Guinness records in Q4 2021. To begin with, we are starting operations in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space, and then expanding across to other sectors.”
BARQ became the first-ever commercial drone operator to be licensed in the UAE. Breaking two world records, it now has a place in the official Guinness record list for executing the longest flight of a drone for the delivery service at 13,584 km, and the longest non-stop return flight for a drone at 18.065 km.
Solving One Problem at a Time
BARQ is quite positive in its outlook of the global transport and logistics industry, especially of the fact that the world is witnessing major challenges in the market. In fact, this industry has emerged as the fourth most funded industry in the MENA region, with a 122% increase, with most companies being based in either Egypt or the UAE.
As David points out, given all of this, logistics will continue to be the company’s area of focus for the foreseeable future. “We believe in solving one big problem at a time with the right solutions in place.”
But that’s not to say that, geographically speaking, the company is not looking to broaden its horizons.
“We are not focusing on the UAE market alone. We have interests from key businesses across the MENA, and BARQ has already spread its wings across outside of the UAE,” says David.
Despite these being early days, BARQ has already created history by breaking two world records and has emerged as the first company of its kind in the region. As an early player in the domain, the company has the potential to spearhead the onset of the electric revolution in the MENA region.
Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see what’s next in store for this disruptive new-age EV player in times to come.