This past year, I became aware of a new company in my area named Hypercraft. I first noticed their small shop some months ago. More recently, I was chatting with an acquaintance who had just begun working for them. I learned that they’re an EV company. I became curious and wanted to learn more for myself, so I made a visit and couldn’t help but notice how much they’ve grown their operations in only a few months.
I learned that Hypercraft has become an EV powertrain specialist. They’re paving the way for new EV creators.
In the early days, before EVs weren’t much of a thing, the components to build EVs just weren’t readily available. Tesla, for example, made the stretch to vertically integrate not so much out of the interest to do so, but more because of a compelling need. The parts and solutions they wanted just weren’t available “off the shelf.”
But things are different now (perhaps largely thanks to Tesla).
As Aptera’s Steve Fambro has noted, things have changed so much in the last 10 years. New technologies and components have come online that just weren’t available before.
Hypercraft is taking this one step further, providing complete powertrain solutions, making it possible even for smaller companies to create EVs.
I had the privilege of doing an interview with Hypercraft’s Co-founder and CEO, Jake Hawksworth. I was able to get some color on what they are up to.
Please give some background on the company. A little "About Us" would be great.
Hypercraft started as a vehicle manufacturer looking to bring new types of high-performance, low-volume vehicles to market that push the limitations of technology and design.
That space is where we first started to clue into the whole EV technology aspect of propulsion and discovered that there wasn’t anybody out there who could supply something turn key. You could find the individual components and technologies, but nobody was turning them into a complete powertrain.
We recognized providing access to these complete electric vehicle powertrains was the bigger problem to solve. Through that process, as a company, we started to focus more on the propulsion side of electric vehicles, seeing that was the bigger opportunity.
Starting in 2020 and into 2021, we were looking into how to create powertrains that could be serviced into all vehicle types. That took us to where we are today, which is 100% focused on being the world’s leading EV system provider.
How did you (the CEO) get started down the EV path?
Specific to me, my role at Hypercraft is vehicle design and engineering, the technical aspect. I spent a lot of time early on learning about this new propulsion technology we were designing. That’s really what took me down the EV path.
The most interesting thing I get excited talking about is that I had zero exposure to EVs pretty much up to 2019. It was like discovering a whole world of technology that I wasn’t familiar with. I learned EVs are so much more capable, viable, and developed than I could’ve ever imagined. I wondered why this technology is not being applied to more applications outside of consumer vehicles. That’s what hooked me. As a design engineer, I got completely hooked.
The competitive EV landscape is getting very full. What makes you think you can find success? What advantages do you bring to the race?
I’d say the advantages we bring are a very good understanding of the end consumer experience. We have been in our customer’s position, so we intimately understand the needs and challenges of our customers. That allows us to be very focused on delivering a great product, experience, and value to them.
We’re at the dawn of EV propulsion and there are thousands of problems to solve in order to provide the market access to this new technology. The challenges are on a technical level with both product design and development. There’s manufacturing and supply chain, and there’s marketing and sales to promote consumer adoption. There’s so much to do, and if we’re solving the right problems at the right time, we’re very confident there’s a path to success for Hypercraft.
Also, we are still very unique in the market. There are other companies that specialize in motors and battery systems, some out there to help DIY customers. They’ll take the parts out of mass-produced vehicles, and kit them together. But Hypercraft takes things quite a few steps further, making an end-to-end solution. Meaning, it’s a full working system, with all new components, providing the vehicle builder with the means to easily do the integration into the vehicle. So we provide vehicle-integration level solutions. We are the only company in the market, we’re aware of, that is doing that.
What opportunities do you see?
The opportunity that we see is really around providing the access to this technology, making it a simpler customer experience, because not everybody is going to be an EV power system expert. You shouldn’t have to be an expert to receive the EV benefits. So for us to provide a turnkey powertrain system, as a safe, reliable plug-and-play solution is a huge opportunity.
Are you still in start-up mode? When do you foresee a clear path to profitability?
Yes, as a company we are still in startup mode. But, we are also building a culture around having a startup mindset for a long period of time. This industry is continually reinventing itself every six to 12 months, and for Hypercraft to stay competitive over the next 10 to 20 years, we’re also going to have to reinvent along with the industry.
Hypercraft as a business had revenue very early on leading to a much earlier path to profitability than many companies in the EV space. Our goal has always been to connect with customers who are ready for a solution today, not sometime in the future, and we’ve found there are plenty of them out there.
Who do you see as your primary competitors?
We don’t see anybody else in the industry as a competitor. They’re really allies in bringing this great product to market. Many of the companies in this space are doing it in a completely different way than Hypercraft. We are still a really unique company in the market. We’re a turnkey solution for vehicle manufacturers. They can come to one company and have every aspect of the powertrain system and EV customer experience solved. This makes Hypercraft a true leader.
Who are your primary customers? What areas or market segments are you focusing on?
Our primary customers are smaller vehicle manufacturers. The market segments we’re focused on include the motorsport industry and commercial space: marine, government and automotive.
Our powertrain systems are agnostic to the end user, so we look for customers who can integrate our powertrain systems into their vehicle platform.
I've noticed firsthand the company's growth. Do you foresee this rapid growth continuing?
Yes, absolutely. We’re seeing a significant amount of demand from our existing customers, but also new potential customers who want to start developing their first electric vehicle platform.
What kind of volume are you currently doing and what do you hope to be able to do in the next few years?
2023 is a year that we will sell and produce hundreds of powertrain systems. 2024 takes us into the thousands. As our customers, who are the vehicle manufacturers, bring new vehicles to market, the demand for these powertrain systems only increases exponentially over the next few years.
If I understand correctly, you are essentially an aggregator. You are taking existing disparate 3rd party parts and merging them into complete systems. Is this a correct assessment?
Hypercraft is designing and manufacturing much of the powertrain system in-house, including the battery packs, motors, high-power electronics and harnesses. We’re also in a great position to utilize a lot of great products and technology at the component level and provide our customers with a complete system. As this industry evolves over the next one to two years, Hypercraft is working to design and manufacture all of the components in our EV powertrain systems.
Do you foresee moving toward vertical integration in the future?
Yes, Hypercraft is definitely vertically integrating. We’re pushing into solving problems that haven’t been solved before and quickly are moving beyond products that exist on the market. We are very focused on our customer’s needs and providing them with a powertrain system that has all the right features and performance. Part of vertical integration is also driving down costs, which will only increase access to this great new technology.
Where are you sourcing your batteries from?
We source our batteries directly from the industry’s top cell manufacturers, including Samsung and LG. Every battery pack that Hypercraft designs or manufactures includes hundreds of thousands of individual cells.
What are your thoughts on cell-to-pack architecture?
EV battery technology and designs are advancing rapidly and Hypercraft is also exploring innovative new architectures like cell-to-pack. For bespoke applications, cell-to-pack is a great way to increase energy density and reduce cost. Module configurations still provide some benefits when it comes to quickly developing packs in different space claims and configurations. Our focus is on modularity that allows our customers to integrate EV battery storage into various project types and applications as simply and quickly as possible. We can leverage the benefits of both cell-to-pack and cell-to-module-to-pack in order to accomplish that.
Do the material shortages facing the industry cause you concern?
There’s a lot of news about material shortages regarding battery cells as globally the transportation industry converts to EV powertrain systems. However, these are typically problems experienced by the largest vehicle manufacturers. There are counterbalancing efforts to increase supply chains and convert manufacturing around the world to support the EV industry.
Are you privately funded? Have you done any "crowdfunding" rounds yet?
Yes, Hypercraft is privately funded and we’ve not done any crowdfunding rounds.
If people want to invest in Hypercraft how could they go about it?
Hypercraft has a very close relationship with its investors to continue to expand our operations and footprint to meet the growing demand for EV powertrains. We just recently closed our seed round in January and plan to do another raise in the near future. If any of your readers are interested in this, we encourage them to reach out.
It’s exciting to see so many businesses getting involved in the EV revolution. The more involvement and partnering the better. The greater the number of people evangelizing the benefits of EVs the more rapid the adoption will be.
Being a startup is difficult. As we’ve seen from other EV startups, it can be difficult to make a go of it in the EV space. I wish Hypercraft all the best. May management be successful in the company's mission of making EV technology readily available to many more people.