Late in 2011, the founder of Ako had just an idea and 8 years later turn into a reality with a disruptive brand. Artūras saw this Mercedes Benz Lifejet concept and a few days later came up with an idea on how to make it simpler & way more effective.
Ako is not a normal brand and neither the team, to build such a new project and develop it with lack of resources you must be crazy. But the team had a clear vision. The new sustainable mobility for overcrowded places that creates a perfect synergy between you and the vehicle. Ako brings natural feeling to the riding. Also, the brand gets an efficient solution for people with disabilities, their market nor is too expensive nor is not a really efficient transport.
This amazing project captures our interest and that´s why we make an interview with the team so Cycle community can know more about new disrupting projects!
Q. How you think is going to change mobility?
Our goal is not to build another car brand. We are building a vehicle that brings back the thrill of driving. We do this while solving other problems that concern everyday driver like traffic jams. While building an eco-friendly product that can achieve 300km/h. And help to build new mobility for people with disabilities. As we dig deeper into traffic jams, for example, is clear that there is 1.2 person sitting in a regular 5-seated vehicle on average. That is 1.2 person in an 8 sq meters vehicle. Of course, bringing a new vehicle to the market does not solve traffic jam problem but it gives a good alternative for a person to choose from as currently there are no vehicles that would have features from both — motorcycles & cars and would be a perfect middle between those two segments.
How many drivers, sitting in a traffic jam, have seen the motorcycles maneuvering through the traffic & thought to themselves on how great that would be? But choosing a motorcycle over a car is removing safety, comfort & private space from your daily rides. We change that.
Q. So… Can you tell us more about disability implementation?
About a year ago we received very honestly and heart-touching ask from one of the Lithuanian Hells Angels leader. He is sitting in a wheelchair and his main task was something like “guys, please, make this available for people like me.”. His eyes were shining and you can even find some photos of him sitting in the prototype zero.
We are developing a solution, “a kit”, that would allow the disabled people to easily get in the vehicle, transfer all the control elements onto the steering-leaning wheel and bring the thrilling experience back for them.
Q. What is the first challenge to take this from prototype to established product?
The first challenge is to raise enough capital as the automotive industry. Our market is a multi-billion dollar industry and entering the market for a startup like ours is a huge challenge. Prototyping, testing, modifying, testing — it all costs a lot, even though we know how to manage funds effectively, it still is a challenge. However, every obstacle for us is just an obstacle and we are building this thing as we truly believe in it.
Q. How you see the future of the company?
We see it as an incredible journey that started in a 12 sq meter garage. We feel passionate when we all come together and we get chills when discussing future growth. We see ourselves as the ones who prove the world that it is possible, no matter where are you from. We aim to deliver the first batch of 250 units custom-assembled in 2023 as the product is new to the market and we do not have anyone to copy from, thus requiring it a lot of engineering and testing.
We often ask ourserlves “why not?” and make it possible. The whole core-team is incredible.
Q. What is the 1-on-1 driving that you speak about?
We tend to bring the fun-factor to driving again. The way motorcycles are driven is the rider is sitting directly on the vehicle and maneuvering it with his body. We call it 1-on-1 riding. The car driver, on the other hand, is sitting comfortably in a chair, using a steering wheel that in combination with power-steering allows the user to be in so-called god-mode where he can twist the wheels with only one-finger. There is something in between the driver & the wheels. AKO Trike, on the other hand, lets you experience the thrilling riding as you would experience while driving the motorcycle (and pure-mechanical body leaning system even enhances the 1-on-1 feeling!). Combining this experience with a closed roof, two chairs, electric motor, insanely good design & airbags — makes you have the same comfort features as a typical car has. And our concept-proof prototype is already proving the extremely good riding sensation.
Q. What’s going to surprise people about Ako?
The futuristic look, the feeling while maneuvering with it & the performance itself. It is insane.
Q. What is the next step for Ako?
MVP (or so-called Aesthetics prototype) as a current prototype is only a concept-proof prototype proving that the body leaning system works well. The next prototype will be all-electric, two seated with partial exterior elements & would completely let the test-user experience the feeling of riding it as well as allow us to do the further testings. With this prototype and 1:1 scale exterior model we aim to land in a few automotive events in 2020 thus gathering even more feedback from the test-users, media, and potential investors.