After moving to China post-graduation and seeing the popularity of electric bikes, two University of Wisconsin alumni developed technology to bring a similar product to Madison.
Friday marked the official opening of Flux Mopeds, a company cofounded and designed by Matt Brueggeman and Alex Meyer.
Unlike regular mopeds, Brueggeman said the Flux runs on an electric battery, making it 100 percent emission free and encouraging the trend toward eco-friendly transportation.
Brueggeman earned his degree in Chinese and international studies at UW in 2006. After six months of post-graduate indecision, he decided to move to Beijing, where he remained for six years.
“The Olympics was a big draw and why I stayed for a long period of time. I wasn’t really looking for a corporate experience and I didn’t have a lot in mind,” he said.
Brueggeman eventually got a job in software translation, where he worked for three years. In 2008, he began working on Flux Mopeds.
“Alex and I had a conversation over a beer, during the Olympics, on my couch in Beijing and we were kind of just talking about how to start a business,” Brueggeman said. ”It was one of those conversations that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”
More than 200 million electric bikes have been sold over the last 20 years in China, making it one of the largest uses of small electric vehicle technology in the world, he said.
Brueggeman and Meyer found the technology in Chinese electric bikes is different from what was needed to develop the product for the States.
“We took over five years to develop a product that was built for American consumers,” Brueggeman said.
The end result was the Flux.
Brueggeman said the moped can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour and can go around 20 to 25 miles on a single charge. The battery recharges from empty to full in eight hours, he said, and the current price tag is $1,999.
“When we compare it to gas-consuming mopeds, we have better performance. Electric motors have better acceleration than small gas engines do,” Brueggeman said. ”It’s also less expensive to purchase and less expensive to operate.”
He said convincing customers of the benefits of electric vehicles will be their biggest challenge. As of now, people are open to electric vehicles but many still have to get used to the idea of electric mopeds, he said.
Many people have come into their shop at 710 Williamson St. to ask questions and then returned later to look at the mopeds again, Brueggeman said.
With the growing trends toward finding sustainable energy sources and the increasing awareness of climate change, the future looks promising for Flux Mopeds, Brueggeman said.
“We have had excellent support from the university, from the city of Madison, and from local citizens,” he said. “We’re looking forward to what’s ahead for our company.”