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Walberg wants to know

: Scooter celebrity

Florian Walberg

is pushing into the mass market with Chinese help

Photo: Mara Kolb / Egret

At Alten Wandrahm 6, a venerable warehouse in Hamburg's Speicherstadt, it is teeming with boxes, electric scooters and tools. There are a few young people there too - one who is one of the oldest seems particularly young.

Florian Walberg

(49), with a casual look with gelled curls and hipster glasses, is the boss of his own little scooter kingdom. The 49-year-old sprints up the steep stairs to the fifth floor of Walberg Urban Electrics GmbH so quickly that once you reach the top of Walberg's executive loft, you have to take a deep breath. The man has no time to waste.

Having become known in the mid-90s as a teenage heartthrob with the boy band “Bed & Breakfast”, the Hamburg native says he has been working with e-scooters for around 20 years and founded the Egret brand in 2011. The passion arose long before the rental scooters descended like ants on many city centers in Germany. Walberg itself does not sell its specially designed and developed scooters to struggling rental companies such as Tier, Bird and Co. - its buyers are private customers.

Now Walberg has bagged a deal that will transform his company. So far, Egret scooters have always cost four figures; they are premium goods. Now the Hamburgers are breaking this rule and are pushing into mass business. From May, four scooters will be available at prices between 679 and 1199 euros via Egret's online shop, but also in consumer electronics stores. Walberg and Co. do not develop the scooters on their own, they rely on a powerful partner: Yadea.

In Europe, the Chinese are probably only known to insiders. The company is a giant. The Wuxi group is considered the largest manufacturer of electric two-wheelers in the world. Yadea sells around 10 million e-mopeds, e-bikes and e-scooters every year, generates the equivalent of over 4 billion euros in sales - and is now pushing into the German market.

Florian Walberg should help with this. Although his company is tiny in comparison, with a recent turnover of just over 12 million euros, it has an excellent reputation. Global corporations such as Audi are also relying on the foldable Egret scooters, and Walberg has already built special models with Pirelli tires and Schaeffler brakes. Now the Hamburger is venturing out of the premium niche. Why? “I could never scale like that on my own,” says Walberg.

Yadea will handle most of the development and production of the four planned scooters, “about 95 percent,” says Walberg. The people of Hamburg help with the final touches. “If we develop a scooter ourselves, it takes at least two or three years and can easily cost up to a million euros,” says Walberg. “Now I get four scooters and have practically no costs. That’s gigantic.”

“No supermarket scooters”

Walberg wants to brush off concerns about quality: “These won’t be supermarket scooters either,” he promises. In contrast to most other manufacturers from Asia, Yadea develops and manufactures at a very high level. What makes him so confident? He is in China regularly and has seen many factories.

Walberg, like practically the entire industry, has its Egret scooters built in China. “In our production, there is always at least one person from our German team on site who audits all work steps.” For him, fair conditions for the employees are non-negotiable, promises Walberg.

Yadea expects quick market access from working with Walberg's team; the Hamburg-based company will take care of approval, customer support and service. “Germany is the most important market in Europe for us,” says

Vicky Yang

, General Manager for E-Bikes and E-Kick Scooters at Yadea. They are “very happy” about Egret as a “renowned and established partner” and Walberg’s “decades of expertise and excellent relationships in the e-sooter industry”.

Walberg's goals are ambitious. “I want to be on the podium, among the biggest three in Germany,” he says. Xiaomi and Ninebot currently sell most scooters in this country. With a five-digit number of scooters sold each year, Egret is “number one in the premium market; no one can hold a candle to us.” Now Walberg wants to re-divide the mass market. With Yadia’s help, he aims to sell “around 100,000” scooters by 2025. “We have the best position with this lineup in the mid-price segment,” Wahlberg is convinced.

The Hamburg resident is certain that the market will provide growth. The general association of insurers counted almost 765,000 insured electric scooters in 2023, three quarters of which belonged to private individuals. While the sharers are fighting for their existence, Walberg says he is making money. “In 2025 we want to achieve double-digit returns in our operating business.”

Walberg also knows other times. After the coronavirus pandemic broke out, his business almost came to a standstill. “We didn’t get any more scooters,” he remembers. The strict lockdowns in China destroyed Walberg's supply chain. “We had to shrink down brutally.” Since then, the company has recovered quickly, “we are currently growing by 70 percent or more year after year.” In 2021, an investor, Paris Fonds Vert, joined Walberg Urban Electrics for the first time and bought 30 percent of the company. Walberg is likely to sell further shares soon. “With our growth goals, we obviously need money.”

It is clear to him that “the DNA” of his company is changing, says Walberg. But above all he sees the opportunity in the deal with the Chinese. “If we don’t make any sales with it, we really only have ourselves to blame.”