Zorgeloos Fietsen

4 reasons why Stella makes its new e-bikes connected

In partnership with KPN and AXA-IN, Stella is introducing a new connected e-bike proposition: Zorgeloos Fietsen, which translates to ‘carefree cycling’. The internet coupling provides a host of benefits in the field of safety and cycling enjoyment. “The customer doesn’t have to worry about things like theft and breakdown assistance,” says Gert Polinder, Stella’s R&D Manager. “The connectivity ensures that we are permanently connected with our customers.”

Stella has put the e-bike on the map in the Netherlands. The company was set up in a shed in 2011. Stella now employs more than 700 staff and sells tens of thousands of e-bikes every year, in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Stella is one of the few major bike manufacturers that does not work through a dealer network. “We develop, produce and supply all the e-bikes ourselves,” Polinder explains. “We also use our own people to provide service and perform maintenance – if necessary, at the customer’s home.”

The launch of their new proposition means that Stella is entering a new phase. Zorgeloos Fietsen is a total package consisting of an e-bike (including GPS module), the Ella Assistant app and five years’ guarantee. The e-bike has been developed in partnership with KPN and AXA-IN. “The customer is at the heart of everything Stella does,” says Polinder. “A connected e-bike makes cycling more enjoyable.”

Stella is going to make all its new e-bikes connected. These are the key benefits:

1. Theft prevention and detection

E-bikes are very attractive to criminals. In the first half of 2021, as many as 9600 owners reported the theft of an e-bike in the Netherlands. According to Stichting Aanpak Fiets- en E-bikediefstal (SAFE) the actual number of e-bikes stolen is at least seven times greater.

“We want to protect our customers against e-bike thieves,” says Gert Polinder. “The app sends a notification when the e-bike is moving, so theft is noticed quickly. Through the ANWB you can get special insurance for an e-bike, including breakdown assistance. If your e-bike is stolen, the insurance company’s ‘bike hunters’ go into action. If they don’t locate your e-bike within 48 hours, you are allowed to choose a new one.”

Stella also hopes that this will scare thieves off. “It is risky for them to steal a Stella bike. We want potential thieves to think, I’d better look for another bike, because I’ll get caught if I take that Stella.”

2. More cycling convenience

The Ella Assistant app enables the user to check easily where the e-bike is and what the battery status is. “‘Will I be able to get to work tomorrow?’ The app allows you to check on your e-bike from your armchair,” says Polinder. “You can see straight away how far you can ride on your e-bike; you don’t have to walk to the bike shed to check it. That makes it even more convenient.”

A customer survey by Stella shows that the features most appreciated by customers are location tracking, theft prevention, breakdown assistance and usage tracking. “We are currently focusing on these. But we envisage many more applications. For instance, how cool would it be to get a push notification when you are cycling past a café or restaurant? ‘You can now get a second cup of coffee and a slice of apple tart for free at the Jansen teahouse.’ Cycling is then even more fun.”

3. Service and maintenance

Additionally, the connectivity enables Stella to optimize service and maintenance processes. “Let’s say that a batch of e-bikes has a factory defect,” Polinder says, by way of illustration. “Via the Zorgeloos Fietsen platform we can see precisely which bikes they are, so we can inform the users. That enables us to resolve the problem quickly.”

The R&D manager is enthusiastic about the future possibilities. “We could send a notification when, for example, the user has ridden a certain number of kilometers and the bike is therefore due to be serviced. In the longer term we want also to conduct preventive maintenance. So we can replace a worn part before it fails. The foundation for this has already been laid.”

4. Competitive advantage

Through the connected e-bikes Stella collects location and sensor data. Analyzing this data makes product innovations possible. “We are getting to know our e-bikes even better and that allows us to develop them more quickly. Needless to say, we respect our customers’ wishes in that regard. They decide which of their data is retained. The raw data we analyze is fully anonymized.”

Knowing more about the e-bikes makes it possible to give a broader guarantee. “We can now give five years’ guarantee on the motor, the display and the battery,” says Polinder. “The latter is a first in the market. If a defective battery is no longer under the manufacturer’s guarantee, we give the customer a refurbished battery. That is better for the environment as well.”

Finally, Polinder points out that Zorgeloos Fietsen is cheaper than comparable packages. “In addition to the purchase of the e-bike the customer makes a one-off payment of 49 euros for the GPS module and five years of connectivity. The insurance costs just 3.58 euros per month. You cannot find that anywhere else on the market.

Modular solution

Stella makes its e-bikes connected with AXA-IN, a modular solution of AXA Bike Security. “This is a package of standard functionalities such as theft prevention, real-time usage information, and communication via the app,” explains Leon Duran of AXA-IN. “We supply the hardware, the software and the app, while KPN provides the connectivity. Together with KPN, we also support Stella throughout the process – the design, the integration with company systems, and testing.”

The advantage of a modular solution like this is that Stella can roll out new services and functionalities in stages. Duran feels that this is in line with the present-day customer experience. “A connected e-bike is a lot more than a bike with connectivity. It enables you to increase the number of contact moments and strengthens the relationship with the customer. The end-user becomes a genuine long-term partner. Using AXA-IN we try to make this as approachable as possible.”

AXA-IN is simple to implement. This generally makes the development of a connected e-bike easier. “It takes an average of 10 to 12 months to put a connected e-bike on the market”, says Duran. “The most time-consuming elements are designing a new bike, the installation of the tracker, the integration with the bike system, and the testing procedure. This has to be done with extreme care.

Acting together in the market

Stella is very satisfied with the partnership with AXA-IN and KPN. “Stella has been using AXA locks and lighting for many years,” says Polinder. “AXA-IN has exceeded our expectations. KPN’s expertise and network are invaluable too. Stella, KPN and AXA are top Dutch brands that together make each other stronger. This launch is possible only because we have such great partners. We are grateful for that.”

Would you, just like Stella, like to make your products connected? And benefit from the advantages mentioned here? If so, simply contact our experts.

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