Female CEO Steers Italian E-Mobility Firm from Start-up to Motor Valley Leader
By Alexis Christoforous
In the heart of Italy's Motor Valley, nestled among auto legends Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini, is the electric motorcycle company Energica.
One of the world’s leading EV motorcycle manufacturers, Energica recently sold a 70% stake in the family-run business to the U-S based electric vehicle company, Ideanomics (IDEX).
CEO Livia Cevolini, who founded the company with her father twelve years ago, tells The Voice of Business that the buyout has changed the game for Energica.
“Now we really have big shoulders to lean on and the opportunity to be more visible,” she said. “We can try new things, we can go a little farther from our comfort zone.”
Known for its racing electric motorcycles, Energica also produces road bikes that are equal parts style and power. All three models, the Energica Ego, Eva Ribelle and EsseEsse9, boast a proprietary vehicle control unit (VCU) wrapped in a powerful 150 horsepower motor with a high capacity 21.5 kWh battery.
The bikes can go more than 60 miles in urban settings and about 155 miles on the highway on a single charge.
“We have the highest torque, the highest power, the longest range,” said Cevolini.” She also said Energica is the only motorcycle company in the world to offer fast charging in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
MODENA, ITALY, July 1 2021 - Motor Valley Fest exhibition, Energica Ego + RS, electric-powered motorcycle
That technological prowess is now being used in other Ideanomics’ subsidiaries including the EV scooter company Treeletrick and the EV tractor company Solectrac.
Named Energica Inside, the business unit is supplying non-competing companies with Energica’s proprietary technology to power their own electric vehicles.
Despite the global pandemic and supply chain constraints, Energica has enjoyed tremendous growth. In just the past year, the EV bike maker has doubled its workforce from 50 to 100 and ramped up its U.S. dealers from 14 to 28.
Cevolini said having the backing of a publicly traded U.S. company allows the business to be more nimble.
“They have the right mentality,” she said of Ideanomics’ executive team. “They push us to be capitalized in order to be able to invest, to risk, and to grow, so it's really a complete synergy between finance and industry. That is very difficult to find for a startup in Italy and in Europe in general,” she said.
Cevolini is one of just a few female CEOs in the male-dominated automotive industry, Cevolini said she sees things slowly changing when it comes to gender equality.
“Women have to fight a little harder because people are not used to seeing a woman in the automotive industry with a high position,” she said. “But things are changing. I've seen more and more women in this industry, more and more women coming to our interviews that are studying engineering.”
As for family and work life balance, Cevolini said, "I have children. I have a family. I have a life and I also have a company. You don't have to choose. It's difficult, but you can do whatever you want.”