The partnership between Bulgaria's Milara International and Germany's Sevic Systems has delivered its first 50 commercial electric vehicles that have been manufactured in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv. The vehicles, Sevic v500, are destined for the United States' market and are delivered to Silicon Valley-based Tropos Motors. According to the contract, a further 450 vehicles will be exported by this year's end.
The Sevic v500, which was initially assembled and certified road legal in the European Union by France's UTAC Ceram in 2021, is Milara's development. E-vehicles will be the new focus of the company, which is best known for production of industrial robots.
The new light utility vehicles are intended for last-mile deliveries. The average price is 20,000 to 25,000 euro depending on the battery, loading capacity and other technical specifications.
The idea for production of e-vehicles for urban deliveries belongs to Sevic System, which set up a local subsidiary, Sevic Bulgaria, in 2018. It started negotiation with potential Bulgarian partners and in 2019 it chose Milara International, which became a strategic partner and investor. The two companies now hold the intellectual property rights on the Sevic v500.
Milara's owners, Krasimir Petkov and Yordan Naydenov, have invested 4 million euro each in Sevic Systems, thus acquiring 10% of the German company. Milara is responsible for the technical development and assembly of the products, while Sevic Bulgaria and Sevic Systems deal with sales and maintenance.
Milara and Sevic aim to secure all-European components for their vehicles in order to avoid supply chain issues arising from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. That seems feasible, as almost all parts come from Balkan countries, except for the chassis, which are made in Turkey, and the batteries, which are delivered from Asia.
"We are looking for options to have key components produced in Bulgaria, including the batteries. We have had discussions and we are even now in negotiations with a potential partner," Sevic Bulgaria manager Emil Yankov said.
The batteries used in Milara and Sevic's e-vehicles have 17 kW capacity. One vehicle can accommodate two batteries, which determines the range of use: 150 km or 300 km. In Yankov's words, the batteries can be charged to full capacity for some 4 or 5 levs (2 or 2.5 euro). "Our advantage to competitors on the market is mainly the dimensions and the capacity of the battery," Yankov explained.
The e-vehicles are currently produced in a separate building on Milara's site in Plovdiv. It is used for all processes: development, assembly and storage of the vehicles and some components. The need for expansion is already evident, as the existing premises allow the assembly of just 30 or 40 vehicles a month, or some 500 vehicles a year. The lack of sufficient space also creates logistic problems.
Therefore the partners are planning the construction of a new building, which has to be ready by the end of 2023. It will allow the companies to increase the personnel and boost the production capacity to some 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles a year.
Yankov expects that Sevic Bulgaria will book a turnover of 6 to 12 million euro in 2023. That will allow the investment to be recouped within two or three years. So far Milara has invested some 10 million euro but the amount is expected to double with the construction of the new production facility.