The value of design to business

We’ve just won an award recognizing the value of design. We’re pretty chuffed because we really believe that design drives the success of our business. For us, it’s not just about designing great products, we’re design-led from top to bottom. Our integrated approach means design permeates through all parts of the business  across product, packaging, brand and culture. 

Ultimately, we’re designing a great customer experience. That centres around our products, but goes well beyond the product itself. It’s about designing the entire 360-degree customer journey, and that involves all parts of our business. This design-led approach is what we believe will help us grow a business with a unique New Zealand flavour, capable of leading the global EV market.  

Designing success

It helps that UBCO’s founders and our CEO are product designers. Design thinking comes naturally to them. But it goes beyond their influence. Here are some of the ways design has contributed to our success to date.  

  • Our product improvements are the result of a learning-first approach to design, testing, and validation. This year we released our fifth-generation product range which is informed by the almost 20 million kilometres customers have travelled on our bikes to date. 
  • Our focus on design for minimal parts/materials and for disassembly, alongside product stewardship, enables us to manage the products’ end of life, particularly important when it comes to batteries.  
  • We’ve utilised design thinking to create a vehicle subscription service that is transforming the way businesses and individuals buy and use our products. Vehicle subscription enables customers to pay a monthly subscription for the bike or battery, while we retain ownership and responsibility for the product. This includes at the end of life through our product stewardship programme.  
  • We’re breaking new ground by selling road registrable vehicles online, direct to customers. This required redesigning the entire customer journey including packaging, training, and communication. 
  • Our global digital marketing effort utilises product ambassadors and social media to grow awareness of our brand and products, build a community of UBCO fans, and grow a family of UBCO users. A consistent brand aesthetic carries through our products and marketing 
  • The UBCO University online portal covers sales and technical training for our global dealer network and extends to customers through instructional videos. 
  • Design collaborations such as 3 Wise Men increase our exposure and brand love. 

Our product has evolved from an off-road-only farm bike concept to a technology platform of connected utility electric vehicles and enabled products and services, such as portable power, software, and accessories.  

We have also developed a vertically integrated hardware, firmware, and software stack for full fleet management that enables vehicle tracking and control, on- and off-road. This has enabled us to grow a fleet sales channel with large-scale deployments. These range across food delivery, freight and postal, agriculture, tourism, and defence, to name a few. Businesses such as Domino’s Pizza opt to deliver on UBCO 2X2s. , Found. 

The power of good design can create massive impact 

There is growing evidence that companies that significantly invest in design, perform better that those that don’t (according to McKinsey & Company, twice as well as businesses that don’t). Awards such as the DINZ Value of Design Award (which we are now proud recipients of) recognise the substantial value that can be created by the skillful, systematic and consistent application of design.  

Thanks largely to the value we place on design, UBCO has rapidly developed into a global company, operating in eight countries with a global online presence whilst remaining firmly rooted in Aotearoa. We have developed a scalable international supply chain that has evolved alongside our business, with manufacturing and assembly operations in New Zealand, the United States, Taiwan, and China. 

We’re building a multi-disciplinary international team with a diverse range of cultures, ethnicities, and genders. In fact, one of the things that design has helped us with is purpose. With a strong purpose, design thinking makes a huge contribution by empowering our team to find the right questions, gather insights, and unlock creativity. As well as powering our purpose here at UBCO, our vehicles are enabling people around the globe to ‘power their purpose’. 

All thanks to the value we place on design.  

And also, thanks to all our collaborators and supporters including GD1, NZTE, Wettsen and our suppliers, Swish, Found.  

Judges comments

“UBCO impressed the judges with the level of integrated thinking required to produce a modern EV on an international scale. With a clear purpose to provide power to move, they are clearly focused on helping people move smarter and safer, as well as making the world a better place at the same time. The design process doesn’t just concentrate on the product but how the product is sold and fleet management as well. The company has become an impressive international business operating in eight countries with a global online presence. An incredibly complex design challenge executed elegantly that is making a big design impact on purpose.”

“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 NZ 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!”