Generation X5

The very best project in each discipline at the Best Design Awards is awarded the supreme, Purple Pin for work that truly raises the bar for New Zealand design.

Timothy Allen PDINZ UBCO

Purple Pin 2020
Product: Generation X5
Studio: UBCO

The Client
Consumer and commercial purchasers.
UBCO is a New Zealand company that manufactures and exports electric, utility motorcycles.  Leveraging the benefits of modern electric drive and battery technology, UBCO’s platform includes on and off-road transport (2×2), portable power, accessories, and subscription software.

 The Challenge

In NZ, the UBCO 2x2 has 80% less CO2 emissions than petrol vehicles during life and 60% less CO2 over the whole vehicle lifecycle. It removes all particulate emissions during use, has 50% less photochemical oxidation (smog), and 40% less cumulative energy demand.

There are, however, still impacts, and UBCO’s continual drive to reduce their environmental impact ensures that sustainability is embedded as a continuous improvement principal in the business.

The Solution

As a largely electronic product with a high capacity lithium-ion battery, UBCO have defined end of life and product stewardship as key areas of focus, in addition to functional improvements.

During the design of the Generation X5 Utility Bike and KXH Portable Power Supply, all aspects of the product and supply chain were evaluated to improve durability, weatherproofing, serviceability, and end of life, including recyclability. 

UBCO increased battery cyclic longevity by at least 30%, whilst improving the design for disassembly of all key areas of the battery, creating a more durable product with a longer life and easier end of life management.

A move to keyless ignition and fewer open ports on the body of the bike mean less water ingress and reduced opportunities for corrosion. The new UBCO Continuum LED headlight is more watertight for longer life. In addition, the components can be taken apart for recycling.

Their motors are more efficient and three-stage regenerative braking means longer time between charges, so less energy is required from the grid. The bike's power supply can be charged via solar panels, with an off-the-shelf inverter and portable panels or a complete off-grid power supply.

Strengthening of the bike frame was informed by chemical and welding analysis, microscopy, FEA, physical validation and cyclic loading. The use case was validated by accelerated testing to achieve a lifespan that was a full weight (150kg) at a full discharge each day, 365 days a year, for five years. This is a level that no recorded use would exceed, ensuring a product that is designed to last.

The full integration of vehicle, hardware, software, and communications has helped UBCO unpick the traditional model of selling bikes to develop a new subscription model. This enables customers to pay a monthly subscription for the bike or battery, while UBCO retains ownership and responsibility for the product and its end of life.

UBCO also made changes to the packaging, supporting materials and delivery process to further reduce the footprint of the product.  Moving to 100% cardboard packaging that is recyclable and 100% online training for dealers and customers, they removed the need for physical collateral.

Judges’ Comments

 Utilising technology to provide functional solutions for a wide array of customers. Expressing a clear design vernacular across the platform, utilitarian mixed with sophistication. Heroic in form and ambition.

From hill country farming to delivering pizzas, this rugged all-wheel-drive 2-wheeler stands out in its field. It's great to see refined and optimised user experience in this emerging icon of New Zealand design and innovation.

The UBCO 2X2 Bike is all it needs to be and nothing it is not. The updates to the platform further its intended capacity in the true spirit of the design. UBCO will take on a life of its own, bigger than its creators. Set to become an icon of New Zealand Design on the world stage. It conjures pride, in a distinctly kiwi way!