Milton Keynes-based Volt rides on the crest of success as e-bike popularity soars during lockdown
Electric bikes made in MK are becoming a popular mode of transport during lockdown.
Family firm Volt opened up a new manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes last July, in the midst of the Covid crisis.
The company had previously manufactured in Poland but , with the exit from the EU looming, was determined to shift the process to the UK.
Milton Keynes was selected due to its strong transportation links and position as a growing innovation hub that is home to over 10,000 businesses, Volt founders, brothers James and Lyle Metcalfe.
James said: "It has been a fantastic achievement to get the space up and running despite the added burden placed on our teams during the current Covid-19 restrictions. They have faced-up to the daunting challenge of adapting facilities and processes to ensure that we keep our people and customers safe, whilst realising our dream of delivering a cutting-edge e-bike factory. I am immensely proud, and it is testament to the superb team we have here at VOLT.”
The new 20,000 square feet factory the capacity to build up to 25,000 e-bikes per year, combining innovative automation with "exceptional" hand-craftsmanship.
Already it has proved a success, with more and more commuters using e-bikes as a germ-free way to get to work and others buying them to explore their local area during lockdown.
Volt bikes have proved so popular that one model, the Kensington, even featured on BBC's EastEnders. A scene showed long-standing star Ian Beale (played by Adam Woodyatt) making an ominous departure from Walford East tube station, with the parked in the background.
The company encourages buyers to send in photos of their travels with their Volt bike and publishes them under a #VoltBikes campaign on social media. Many people have described how getting out and about on an e-bike has been their lifeline during lockdown.
Meanwhile the company is looking to use more local suppliers in its new MK manufacturing process.
James told the Financial Times: “We got contacted by local suppliers that can build anything from screws to robots. A lot of entrepreneurial companies have arrived in Milton Keynes with the view that it’s a hub for resources, where there is a lot you can draw from local people and business to assist your company and get better.
"We are still using 90 per cent of components ultimately manufactured abroad, but we are gradually looking at getting more of what we need locally.”