Have you ever had a moment where it feels like all the skills you’ve been developing have been leading you to do one specific thing? That appears to be how Dat Bike, Vietnam’s first electric bike startup, began. As the story goes, founder and CEO Son Nguyen first started building on bikes while he was working as a Silicon Valley software engineer. Then, he saw a need back home in Vietnam—and he put all his knowledge in multiple areas to work to found Dat Bike.
As you may or may not be aware, motorbikes are a major form of transportation throughout Southeast Asia. Over 80 percent of households throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have some type of two-wheeled vehicle—but they’re mostly combustion-powered. Climate change is a real thing, and as nations race to mitigate the damage by strictly curtailing emissions, the switch to EVs is on the rise. That’s exactly where Dat Bike, which was founded in 2018, comes into play.
The company’s first model, the Weaver, packed a 5kW electric motor and a claimed 100 kilometers (62 miles) of range on a single charge. Two people can ride on it, which is especially important in a region where two (and sometimes more) people ride the same bike on a regular basis. All riders have to do in order to charge a Weaver is plug it into a standard household outlet for about three hours. Easy, right?
Gallery: Dat Bike - Weaver 200
To simplify matters and also keep costs down, Dat Bike made the crucial early decision to source as many of its parts as possible from within Vietnam. While the global pandemic and the ensuing supply chain havoc was a completely unprecedented wrinkle faced by many businesses, that early decision likely made dealing with these issues a lot less stressful than it could have been.
“There are also huge tax advantages for being local, as import tax for bikes is 45% and for bike parts ranging from 15% to 30%,” Nguyen told TechCrunch. “Trade within Southeast Asia is tariff-free though, which means that we have a competitive advantage to expand to the region, compared to foreign imported bikes.”
Since first introducing the Weaver, Dat Bike went on to release the uprated Weaver 200—so named because it can do 200 kilometers (124 miles) on a single charge. Top speed is now 90 kilometers per hour, or just under 56 miles per hour. Weight is 120 kilograms, or about 264 pounds, and it has an IP65 rating, meaning that rainy days shouldn’t be a problem.
Dat Bike’s headquarters are currently located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, along with one of its stores. There’s another location in Hanoi, and potentially more to come as the business grows to serve even more customers. Prices are 39,900 Vietnamese dong for the Weaver (about $1,740), or 54,900 VND (about $2,389) for the Weaver 200, which is scheduled to begin shipping in July, 2022.